On November 26, 2018, Snapdeal unveiled ‘Brand Shield’, a tool to stop counterfeit merchandises from being sold on their online platform aimed to improve customer buying experience. Brand Shield is a triple-check point process for brands, having established the ownership of the IP, to report any violation of their IP rights including trademark, copyright, design or patent rights. E-commerce-specific issues would be relating to unlawful copying of logos, brand images, design features and packaging by sellers.
Almost 20% of the products on each of the online e-commerce sites have been found to violate IP laws. As per one of the recent surveys by Times of India Group, 30000 buyers were asked which online site sells the highest number of fake goods anf Snapdeal stood first with 37% votes.
Brand Shield is Snapdeal’s tool to strengthen their IP enforcement game and increase customers’ trust. The spokesperson for Snapdeal said, “The issue of unscrupulous sellers misusing online marketplaces to sell fake goods is a global problem. Brand Shield is part of our ongoing initiatives to collaborate with brands owners to combat counterfeits and infringement offences.”
Snapdeal promises to go through the genuinity of each complaints swiftly and take down the listing of such products within 1 business day. The respective seller will also be penalised as per Snapdeal’s terms and conditions.
Selling counterfeit goods attracts the following provisions of law –
- Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Section 415 and 420 on cheating, Sections 463, 464 and 468 on forgery, Section 120 B on Criminal Conspiracy, Sections 481,482, 483, 485, 486, 487, 488 on Counterfeiting of property mark.
- Copyright Act, 1957- Sections 63 and 64 on offence of infringement of copyright or other rights conferred by the Copyright Act.
- Trademark Act, 1999- Section 135 on civil remedies in the form of injunction, damages, delivery-up, anton pillar and john doe orders under Relief in suit for infringement and criminal remedies in the event of falsifying or falsely applying for a trademark under Section 102 and 103.
- Other Acts under which remedies are available- Patents Act 1970, Designs Act 2000, Geographical Indications Act 1999, Information Technology Act 2000, Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940, Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002.
- Other e-commerce sites like Alibaba and eBay have ‘TaoProtect’ and ‘VeRO program’ respectively, which were developed exclusively for dealing with IP complaints. Dubai, Thailand, China are all cracking down hard on fakes to pitch themselves better as retail paradise. Indian online market is following suit.
- As per Section 3(4) of the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011, intermediaries such as Snapdeal should act on infringing material within 36 hours of been informed as a part of due diligence. Snapdeal seems to go beyond by acting against the seller too. This may be a positive move.
- The National IP Policy launched by the government in 2016, has amongst other laws, the objective VI, to strengthen the enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms for combating IPR infringements establishment of a dedicated cell for IP rights promotion and management (CIPAM), for efficient administration and implementation of the policy. Customers could also make use of this lesser-known path to enforce their IP rights.
- To check the veracity of the claim of an IP infringement complaint, make a decision and disable link to the product, all in 24 hours, is very difficult if one does not have a huge team of support and lawyers. How effectively can Snapdeal use Brand Shield, without over protecting or harming genuine small scale sellers, we have to wait and see.
 Buyers Were Asked Which Online Site Sells The Highest Number Of Fake Goods. Here Are The Results, Marketing Mind (2018), https://www.marketingmind.in/buyers-asked-online-site-sells-highest-number-fake-goods-results/ (last visited Nov 30, 2018).