Skip to main content


I. Enforcement Best Practices and Tactics

a. Engage your legal counsel or a third-party legal service

Read More

Many brand protection tools and technologies from third party vendors can be used and administered by a non-lawyer working in the IT, marketing, or operations department. To maximize the effectiveness of these tools it’s best that SMEs retain knowledgeable legal counsel to use the tools or provide guidance regarding their findings – one who has expertise in intellectual property rights management and enforcement. Legal counsel can help a brand client understand the difference between types of infringements, what constitutes “fair use,” what trademarks are “generic,” what is a “grey market” product, or what might be a “false positive” detection result. This specialized knowledge is important for making enforcement efforts efficient and effective.

International anti-counterfeiting and IP protection service providers not only can help you detect counterfeits and infringing goods online, but they can also help you design, develop, and implement effective anti-counterfeiting and brand protection programs. You can also undertake enforcement on your own. Here are a few recommendations.

b. Send Cease and Desist Letters

Read More

Once you have identified the counterfeiter, whether he/she is operating a physical store or a website, you should send a “cease and desist” letter demanding that the owner of the store or website cease infringing your intellectual property rights.

Cease and desist letters do not have to be in any specific format but, at a minimum, should include the following elements:

  • Identify you as the trademark or copyright holder and brand owner.
  • Identify the specific IP being infringed and where it is occurring (be sure to include the URLs (domain names), or screenshots of the counterfeit items.
  • A demand to immediately “cease and desist” publication or display of the counterfeit goods or infringement.
  • A demand that the infringer confirm within a few days that the infringing content has been removed.

If you do not get a response from the infringer or do not see the counterfeit items removed or deleted, you may need to consult with your legal counsel on next steps to enforce your rights under the laws of your jurisdiction.

Obtaining Domain Name Registration Data for Standalone Websites

If you have discovered infringments or counterfeits of your product on a standalone website, you will need the domain name registration data (ie, the name and contact information of the website owner) in order to send cease and desist letters and take other enforcement actions. 

To obtain domain name registration data, you must request this information from domain name registrars and registries and provide a legal basis for making the request. When making these requests, you must take the following steps:

  • Identify the company as the trademark or copyright holder
  • Explain legal bases for processing the data
  • Identify the specific IP being infringed and how it is occurring
  • Make each request unique; it will be reviewed by a real person
  • Commit to processing in accordance with applicable laws
  • Request only the information necessary to enforce IP rights and explain why this information is needed – a requestor cannot go “fishing” for information
  • State that the request is complete and accurate to requestor’s best knowledge

Helpful Links

c. File a DMCA Complaint

Read More

Many counterfeiters use your images/photographs of your product in their counterfeit listings. This gives you an opportunity to quickly and efficiently take these listings down on the basis of copyright infringement.

In the United States, a DMCA claim, also called a DMCA “takedown notice,” is a complaint made against an online content creator who is infringing your copyrighted work – for example using an image of your product on a website selling counterfeit products. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a set of laws in the US aimed to protect copyrighted content on all digital mediums. You can send the takedown notice to the website owner if their email address or mailing address appears on the website or alternatively, you can send the notice to the company that is hosting the website. You can find the name of the hosting service provider by looking it up in the WHOIS records (see Helpful Link above). The takedown notice should contain important information such as your information and statement of your copyright interest, the URL where the infringement is found and a description of the infringement. In the box below, we have provided a template for composing a DMCA takedown notice. After receiving a notice, a hosting services provider or content creator must remove the infringing work or else respond with a defense of the creator’s use of the copyrighted work. There are no fees to file a DMCA complaint.


To Whom It May Concern,

The following information is to assert my rights and request a removal of allegedly infringing web content under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). I am contacting you as the agent for the site where the infringing content currently appears. This is a Notice of Infringement as authorized in §512(c) of the U.S. Copyright Law.

I am the copyright owner of the content, and the following information is true and accurate.

  1. The original work, for which I own the copyright, appears, with my permission, at the following locations online: (List the URLs where your original and work appears and is authorized)
  2. I have attached copies of my original copyright work to help with your evaluation and decision-making process.
  3. The allegedly infringing work can be found in the following locations online: (List the URLs where the infringing work is currently located)
  4. My contact details are as follows: (List all contact details including your address, preferred phone number, and email address)
  5. The contact details of the alleged infringer are: (List any contact details you were able to find on the U.S. Copyright Office website or WHOIS)
  6. I have a good faith belief that the use of the above copyrighted works that appears on the website for which you are the DMCA agent is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or by law.

I declare, under penalty of perjury, that this notice is true and correct and that I am the copyright owner entitled to exclusive rights which I believe are being infringed.

Signed this ________ day of ___________, 20_____ in (Your City, State, Country).

(Your Signature or eSignature)

d. File a UDRP Claim

Read More

Counterfeiters sometimes register domain names that are confusingly similar to domains you have registered for your business; for example registering a misspelled domain name “UNDERARMOR.COM” to sell Under Armour counterfeit athletic apparel. If you detect a domain name that is infringing your brand or trademark, you can file a complaint under the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). Unlike filing DMCA takedown notice however which doesn’t have a fee, filing a UDRP complaint with an arbitration forum costs approximately $1500. The benefit of making the filing, however, is that if you prevail against the infringer, the domain name is transferred to you which takes the domain name out of circulation and use by another infringing party.

Helpful Links

e. Report Infringing Listings on Social and E-Commerce Platforms Online

Read More

Many counterfeit goods are sold by unauthorized third-party sellers using popular e-commerce or social media platforms. Most major platforms have their own detailed processes for reporting sales of counterfeit goods. SMEs and brand owners must follow these processes if they wish the platform to act against the illegal seller on the company’s behalf.

Each e-commerce platform provider has its own requirements for submitting a complaint regarding infringements or counterfeits. Please make sure you satisfy all the requirements for a submission when you make a report. Failure to include all the information requested will result in the complaint being rejected or not processed properly. Make sure you keep a copy of all the information you provide, the date you submitted the complaint and any confirmation receipt you receive acknowledging your submission. Also, it’s good practice to save screenshots of the counterfeit products you find on the platform, the name of the unauthorized seller, and any associated URLs linked to the pages where the counterfeits appear.

With the information above collected and recorded, you can contact the platform and file your complaint. Below is a convenient chart with links to public reporting links.

Facebook (Marketplace)
Google (Shopping)
Mercado Libre

In addition to being able to report infringements with the platform directly, some platforms offer special programs in which brand owners may enroll and list their product names and trademarks, and services in a registry database. Other platforms require enrollment before you can submit a report or complaint. IACC recommends that you enroll in these programs now even if you aren’t currently seeing counterfeits so that when you do need to make a report, you can do so quickly. Platforms use this information to proactively police infringing listings and to expedite reporting of counterfeits. As with IP asset registrations, sometimes your resellers or other business partners may offer to register you for ecommerce brand protection programs on your behalf. It is important that you do NOT let third parties register your participation on your behalf as they will have access to valuable enforcement data you may want to see, and this circumstance can also negatively affect your ability to enforce your rights on the platform.

Alibaba IPP
Amazon Brand Registry Program
eBay Verified Rights Owner Program (VERO)
Mercado Libre Brand Protection Program
Wish Brand Partner Program

f. Keep Records of Your Complaints

Read More

For each enforcement action you take to protect your brand, whether it be sending a Cease-and-Desist letter or a DMCA takedown notice, you should maintain a record of your actions. Keep all of the evidence you have collected to prepare those complaints including screenshots of the counterfeit products, the URLs where they are located, the seller’s contact information or seller IDs, and other information that is useful for law enforcement purposes, legal actions, and future complaints against repeated unauthorized sellers and non-compliant ecommerce or social media platforms.

g. Develop Relationships with the Platforms

Read More

Finally, if you are selling products on ecommerce or social medial platforms, it is helpful to cultivate a personal relationship with individuals working on brand protection and anti-counterfeits issues at those companies. If you don’t know who to call or email to set up a meeting or conversation, contact IACC and ask for information on whom to reach out to share your experience, concerns, and anti-counterfeit activities. Having a good relationship with platforms may help you get expedited responses to your complaints.

IACC Online Enforcement Partnerships

  • IACC RogueBlock® Program
  • IACC MarketSafe® SME Program
  • IACC-Amazon Program

RogueBlock®, the IACC’s payment processor initiative, is a collaborative effort of the IACC and world’s largest credit card and payment processor companies to create a streamlined, simplified procedure to report and take down merchant accounts of online sellers of counterfeit and pirated goods. We hit criminals where it matters most – their wallet. Taking down just one merchant account, could affect hundreds of illegal sites operated by the counterfeiter. Learn more here!

IACC MarketSafe® SME Program, the IACC’s strategic collaboration between the IACC and Alibaba Group, provides small businesses with a streamlined mechanism for expedited take-down actions against infringing listings and sellers. It also provides complex issue resolution and special policies to address counterfeiters’ evasive tactics. This free program gives small entrepreneurs the hands-on support of dedicated, Chinese-speaking analysts. Best of all, this program is free for SMEs.

IACC – Amazon Program, the IACC’s partnership with Amazon, is a unique voluntary collaboration supported by senior management and specialized teams within Amazon and the IACC. The Program focuses on streamlining, accountability and meaningful engagement – providing an expedited resolution path for enforcement issues as well as a real-time feedback mechanism to drive long-term solutions. Learn more here.

II. Working with Law Enforcement on Anti-Counterfeiting Cases and Operations

Working with law enforcement can take your brand protection efforts to the next level and in some instances, demonstrate to counterfeiters and repeat offenders the seriousness of your enforcement efforts. By engaging law enforcement in your case, you are harnessing the power of the government’s resources and manpower. Private industry is dwarfed by the reach of law enforcement and their access to prosecutors, courts, media, and the community. Perhaps the most serious implication is their ability to arrest violators and seize counterfeit products.

Working with law enforcement, at least initially will require some effort on your part. Being prepared is critical to an investigation’s success. Ensure your allegations of criminal conduct are accurate and recent, to allow the authorities the ability to confirm your claims. Here are some things to keep in mind:

a. Determine Which Agency is Appropriate

Read More

Law enforcement can be categorized by jurisdiction. Each country will have local references to law enforcement, but they generally fall into three tiers: local, state, and federal or national. In the U.S., local police or sheriff’s offices cover a county, city, or town. State authorities include the state police or state attorney general. Federal authorities include the FBI, Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), and Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”). Some IP offenses, such as illegally importing counterfeit goods, may fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of federal authorities.

b. Prepare Your Case

Read More

Depending on the jurisdiction and type of the illegal activity, you’ll need to meet with the appropriate agency to report the crime. Determine what the elements are of the crime you wish to report and the extent of the infringement. This is where having registered your IP early on will be useful, if not necessary. Be prepared to show relevant IP registration documents.

The authorities will assess the potential case to determine the existence or seriousness of the criminal violation, and their ability to investigate and successfully present it to a prosecutor. Some law enforcement agencies, especially at the local level may not be familiar with IP cases and you may have to provide them some basic IP education. Be prepared to demonstrate that a crime has occurred and that you (brand) are the victim. Know which law has been broken in the jurisdiction in which you’re taking action and what your IP covers. For example, if you’re contacting a state or local agency, cite the laws of that state. For Federal agencies, cite the appropriate Federal criminal code. Value thresholds for federal cases are set much higher than local or state jurisdictions. We strongly advise you to engage legal counsel and assistance with these cases.

Provide information that supports your claim; undercover purchases or “buys” you have made and any evidence you have collected.

Other factors to consider with criminal cases:

  • Criminal cases work differently and can take longer.
  • In a criminal case, the police and eventually the prosecutors are in control. From the initial investigation, arrest, seizure, legally sufficient authentication affidavits, arraignment, grand jury, hearings, and trial, you will need to assist law enforcement with areas such as testimony, product samples, relevant product information, etc in a timely manner. If at some point in a criminal investigation, counterfeit products are seized as evidence, some jurisdictions may require the brand to pack, transport and store the counterfeit products until the case’s ultimate adjudication and the evidence is no longer needed. Consider collaboration with other brands to share costs.
  • Another factor to consider is that police and prosecutors will usually inform the public through news media about arrests, seizures, and prosecutions. Some brands would rather not publicize the counterfeiting issues associated with their products. They believe such publicity could negatively impact its sales, stock performance, erode the public’s trust in the product and increase liability. Other brands take an open, inclusive approach to brand enforcement by educating consumers in order for them to make informed purchasing decisions. 
  • As with any criminal case, “discovery” could reveal your brand’s trade secrets or give counterfeiters confidential information thereby defeating your safeguards.

c. Consider Working with International Law Enforcement

Read More

Law enforcement agencies around the world conduct regular operations to stop counterfeiting activities. As a business owner, you can participate in these operations. In the Appendices, several ongoing international law enforcement operations are described. To maximize the effectiveness of a company’s participation in a law enforcement operation it’s important to know and follow these key recommendations:

  • Don’t leave the submissions to the last minute as they may not be processed in time
  • The documentation requirement can vary wildly from operation to operation; be prepared to sign affidavits, and/or provide copies of ID and documents in support
  • The law enforcement initiatives should be considered an additional support option rather than a sole or primary option as they will involve ongoing investigations which may not result in immediate action or results
  • Be aware of jurisdiction – if your initiative is a EUROPOL initiative do not submit domain names that are outside of Europe as they will not be investigated
  • The more information supplied the better your submission will be received by law enforcement

Also please know that law enforcement typically will not provide feedback relating to a company’s submissions, however they do provide overall figures and data relating to offline/online seizures, arrests and take downs.

III. Work with and Train Customs Authorities

For most countries, customs authorities are the first line of defense in stopping counterfeits of your product at the border. They can also be a valuable source of information about potentially new origins or variations of counterfeits. We highly encourage you work with customs agencies in your respective countries, as well as those in which you do business or manufacture. Please note however, that customs authorities in most countries will largely or solely focus inspections on goods coming into the country as opposed to those leaving the country.

Most countries will require that the IP you want to protect through customs are registered. This is another instance in which registering your marks early will facilitate your protection of it in the future. Many countries have systems in which brands can register with their customs authorities. In some countries, like in Canada, registration is free, while others charge a fee.

a. Best Practices for Working with Customs:

Read More
  • Choose a point of contact and respond in a timely manner. Some brands choose an outside investigator or consultant to be the POC.
  • Cooperate with customs when information or authentication is requested.
  • Create training materials to help customs identify fake and genuine products. Keep information simple and easy to remember since customs are often dealing with hundreds of brands and products.
  • Engage with and train customs (and law enforcement) regularly. Training is an important component in the fight against fakes. Whether you do it on your own or participate in the IACC’s Law Enforcement Training Program, we highly recommend that you engage with and maintain relations with customs authorities. Doing so enables you to explain the latest methods of authentication, changes in manufacturing or enhanced security methods presently in use.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection
Working with Customs & Border Protection is a low cost and effective way to harness the power of CBP to stop infringing goods at the border.

  • Ensure your brand’s trademark is registered and maintained with the United State Patent & Trademark Office.
  • Next, ensure that you record your federally registered trademarks and copyrights with CBP through the e-Recordation program ( CBP prioritizes its enforcement on IP rights that have been recorded with the agency.

Helpful Links

Training through the IACC Law Enforcement Training Program

  • IACC Law Enforcement Training Program
  • IACC Law Enforcement Training App

The IACC’s Law Enforcement Training Program has been a huge benefit to our brand members as it connects brands with frontline law enforcement in the U.S., Latin America, and other countries. The trainings allow brands to educate and build relationships with national, state, and local police, customs, and prosecutors. Presently, we are conducting virtual training events which have become quite popular.

Pre-Covid, the IACC held 24 annual training events in the U.S. along with events in Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Over the past 30 years, our program has educated 45,000 law enforcement personnel. Watch for announcements and sign up to participate in training. We look forward to in-person training upon requests from law enforcement agencies.

The IACC would like to make you aware of our Law Enforcement Training App through which we assist law enforcement with relevant tools to enhance their IP protection efforts. The App contains brand training manuals, relevant state laws as well as brand contact information, enabling law enforcement instant access to that information.

SME’s can maximize their reach by making their training materials and contact information available to officers in the field investigating IP crime 24/7/365. Member and non-member brands are encouraged to submit their training information.

To maintain security and confidentiality, the contents are accessible to law enforcement only.

Must be logged

Please sign in or click below to gain access to this page.

SME Brand Protection Toolkit