03 Jan How Does a Private Investigator Conduct an Infringement Investigation
How Can a PI Help a Business Conduct an Infringement Investigation
Infringement investigators usually focus on trademark and brand violations of a company. To find evidence that proves infringements is quite difficult and requires experienced private investigators.
Due to their access to many resources, private investigators can find ways to prove if anyone is using a company’s trademark without approval. Our private investigators had to solve a similar case and managed to confirm that a third party was indeed illegally using a company’s business name and marketing materials.
The evidence of infringement
Trademark infringement is defined by the US Patent and Trademark Office as “the unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark on or in connection with goods and services that is likely to cause confusion, deception or mistake about the source of the goods and services.” So, private investigators need to prove that someone is using a company’s trademark without approval, find the infringers, and identify their methods.
Many times, those who infringe live in a different jurisdiction and make sure to hide their activities to avoid legal repercussion and not be caught. They can sell fake goods like sports shoes or electronics using famous brand names, in small stalls or shops, to customers who aren’t aware of their schemes and want to enjoy a good deal.
Social media platforms are now the perfect marketplaces to sell counterfeit goods. Many Instagram and Twitter accounts sell fake goods that damage the name of companies like Adidas and Nike. As expected, the accounts can’t be linked to real persons, so private investigators need to take it from there and track the persons behind those accounts.
The methods used to track the infringers
The help of a private investigator is vital when conducting an infringement investigation. They have the knowledge, means, and resources to track down the persons hiding behind the unauthorized use of the trademark.
A private investigator usually starts with a general search of the trademark. There are different level searches – state, national, and international. They will use database searches, as well as web’s various facets – surface web, deep web, and dark web, to identify the trademark infringements in various languages. This step of the investigation requires various advanced software, resources, and complex search techniques.
The next step is to make contact with the infringers. The fastest way to do this is for the private investigator to pretend to be a customer and conduct a pretext investigation. This way, they can collect evidence about the way the trademark is used and sold. If the culpable party has a brick and mortar store, things get a bit easier, because the PI can talk to them face to face.
The investigation gets a bit more complicated when the private investigators have to deal with online trademark infringements. However, this is not an insurmountable obstacle. Private investigators conduct social networking investigations to identify the account owners and follow their traces, including their financial background, to get the necessary evidence for their case.
Concerning the case mentioned at the beginning of the article, we used surveillance and documentation to identify the third party that used the company’s brand name and marketing materials without permission. Surveillance is usually the safest way to identify infringers, especially if they use physical locations to commit this crime.