Countering counterfeits: Swedish skintech brand Foreo wins IP battle in China
Earlier this month, the Shanghai Intellectual Property Court issued the largest ever counterfeit-related pay out to Foreo – close to €400,000 ((£332,000) – for design infringement, following a two-year court battle regarding its facial beauty device Luna. The court ruled that Chinese firm Kingdom Zhuhai Company was guilty of infringing Foreo’s Luna design patent with its own ‘KD398’ product and called for the Chinese counterfeit product to be removed from the market immediately.
The counterfeit made close to €4.4m in sales from through e-commerce sales, largely on Alibaba and TIanmao platforms, whilst on the market.
‘Delighted’ with the China counterfeit ruling
Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europe, Foreo’s UK and Ireland general manager Boris Raspudic said: “This is a massive breakthrough for the brand.”
Foreo’s Luna device, he said, took years to perfect and a lot of hard work went into developing the product, so it was important consumers received the authentic product.
“…The problem with counterfeits is that they mislead consumers who think they’re getting a Foreo product when they’re not. This can negatively impact their perception of our brand,” Raspudic said.
“Counterfeits also have a huge impact on us as a business. We’ve found a number of companies around the world who are making fake Foreo devices, as well as vendors actively selling fake products. As you can imagine, this costs us millions of pounds every year, so we’re delighted with the ruling and it’s great to see China supporting brands in fighting this ongoing battle.”
Counterfeiting a ‘huge issue’ in skin care
Raspudic said dounterfeiting was an “huge issue” affecting the whole skin care industry, with numerous fakes and new products under counterfeit brand names.
“Counterfeiting is incredibly costly for brands to fight against, there are huge litigation costs and even if you take a counterfeit down successfully, another pops up. So, it’s really hard to keep on top of,” he said.
Foreo was working to protect its customers, he said, by providing unique serial numbers on each device produced – enabling authenticity confirmation by registering the product on Foreo’s website. The company’s patent had also proved “essential”, he said.
“Not only does [a patent license] protect your customers from fake products, it also gives your brand the right to shut down counterfeit products if they do crop up (…) It’s really important to acquire a patent license for brand protection, both for your customers and business, I can’t stress this enough.”
China ‘waging war’ on counterfeit fraud
Raspudic said China had “gone to great lengths” to crack down on counterfeiters, introducing a new e-commerce law which held vendors accountable and supported foreign business.
Filip Sedic, founder of Foreo, agreed: “Whilst this judgement is a great victory for Foreo, the important fact remains that Chinese courts are waging war on counterfeiting in its own backyard and it’s working. We are truly grateful for the great support of the China legal system, not solely in Shanghai and this case exclusively, but all over China where the legal system is supporting change and traps the reason for trade war in China generally.”
However, Raspudic said efforts elsewhere fighting counterfeits were “a big contrast”, notably in the US. Proceedings in the United States, he said, took much longer and were more expensive. “Even if you are successful, counterfeiters in the US can just change their name and carry on with business as usual, so usually all your efforts are in vain.”
Sedic said it was down to retailers and marketplaces across the world to place “a higher regard on IP protection for brands”.