Otter Products is involved in a lawsuit against two Maryland residents who the company says sold counterfeit products on ecommerce websites./ OTTERBOX
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to correct two errors. The original post incorrectly stated Robert Ziemian’s law firm as well as the location of Nite Ize.
The seemingly limitless number of products and sellers on ecommerce websites like Amazon might represent a treasure trove of deals for consumers, but it can be a nightmare for businesses trying to lock down their intellectual property.
Businesses are facing an uphill battle in trying to prevent counterfeits or knock-off products from undercutting their sales, watering down their trademark protections or damaging their reputation. And while someone might have previously have needed to visit Chinatown in New York to find cheap counterfeit products in the U.S., it’s becoming more and more common to do so from the comfort of one’s home as ecommerce sites become the favorite places to shop for many consumers.
Robert Ziemian, a partner at Haynes and Boone, said he’s been working with clients to fight counterfeits and knock-offs for about nine years. He said he’s seen the prevalence of those products boom with the rise of online shopping; the dollars spent online have only been increasing over the past 10 years. The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates consumers spent $513.6 billion online in 2018, up 14.2% from 2017. In 2008, consumers spent $142 billion online.
And although Amazon and other online marketplaces are being flooded with products from overseas, it’s hitting businesses here in Colorado. Ziemian had worked with Boulder-based Nite Ize in fighting counterfeit products coming across the border, and Fort Collins-based Otter Products has had its own share of IP battles as well.