Counterfeiting & Seizures

Facebook: 377,000 intellectual property infringements in 6 months

Facebook develops tools to protect intellectual property rights (IP rights), following the lead of e-commerce giants Amazon and eBay.

IP infringements committed on online platforms

Online sales platforms such as Amazon, Alibaba and eBay come under fire for their handling of counterfeit products. The accusation? The online giants tolerate the sale of counterfeits on their platforms and their counterfeit protection measures are simply a marketing coup. More on this in our blog post.

Media reaction to the report by Facebook is very different. Social media platforms are increasingly being misused to promote and sell counterfeits. (Read more here.) Facebook has released figures on intellectual property rights (IP rights) infringements under the name Transparency. The data published is shocking: More than 377,000 intellectual property infringements were reported in the space of just six months in 2017. The number of unreported infringements actually committed is anybody’s guess.


What is Facebook doing to protect IP rights?

Counterfeit products are sometimes offered for sale on Facebook ads.
The Terms of use forbid the publication of any content that infringes IP rights in any form. Of course, this alone is not enough. Facebook has developed various tools for brand owners, which they can use to report infringements.

A simple online reporting form allows users to report posts, photographs and videos as well as entire profiles and groups. An international IP Operations Team processes all the reports received. The aim is to block the reported content within 24 hours if the suspected infringement is confirmed to have been committed. Repeat offenders face having their account shut down.

According to statements by Facebook, the company is also working on other tools such as the Rights Manager and the Commerce & Ads IP Tool to assist in prosecuting IP infringements. The Rights Manager is able to identify videos that are identical to protected content by rights holders. The Commerce & Ads IP Tool allows rights holders to search Facebook and Instagram ads, selling posts on Facebook groups and Marketplace posts for registered word marks, and report them if necessary.

Whether or not this will bring resounding success and be able to drive out counterfeits and other content that breaches copyrights remains to be seen. Even so, it is a step in the right direction and the published figures on actual infringements will boost public awareness of the problem.


Interesting links on this subject

Facebook terms of use

Facebook online reporting form

Blog post: Amazon update: anti-counterfeiting programme extended

Blog post: Counterfeits sold on Facebook, Whatsapp and co. on the rise

Facebook Transparency

Facebook Rights Manager

Facebook Commerce & IP Tool

SecuringIndustry article: Facebook gets 377,000-plus IP complaints in six months


Marlene Ende, International Product & Market Manager

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