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4.7 Interview Convey

‘Stopping illegal trading within days’

Trade in counterfeit products is a growing, global problem. In the past, the main victims of this trade were sectors such as fashion, sports, jewellery and luxury items. These days, the negative consequences of counterfeiting affect the entire business sector, including the bicycle industry. Hardly surprising then that Accell Group goes out of its way to protect its brands and branded products. And even more so these days, as the company’s omni-channel strategy is increasing its e-commerce activity every single year.

In 2015, Accell Group began working with Convey, a firm specialising in online brand protection. Convey’s Managing Director Michele Provera explains what makes their approach so effective.

Has the internet increased the misuse of intellectual property?
“The internet offers perpetrators a wide range of channels to market and trade their products. From websites, digital trading platforms and social networks to mobile messaging services. We focus primarily on market places, because that is where most of the transactions that are harmful to the bicycle sector are conducted.”

How would you characterise Convey’s approach?
“We have developed advanced datamining technologies to screen the internet for illegal product offerings 24 hours a day. And I mean any and all offers that constitute a violation of intellectual property rights. That is not just misuse of brand names and designs, but also every production batch not authorised by Accell Group. If we find an illegal offer, we take action immediately. The seller receives a warning and if they fail to respond we alert their service provider to the violation of intellectual property rights via their network. Providers are legally obliged to cease transmission in such instances. This approach is very effective. Most sellers remove their offers after the first warning.”

Why is this better than a legal procedure?
“International legal procedures are expensive, complicated and take a long time. In the meantime, the seller can move their trade elsewhere or continue under a new name. We make sure an offer is taken off the internet within days and that the seller is removed from the market place.”

What have you achieved for Accell Group so far?
“We went to work for Accell Group in January 2015. Less than two years later, we have successfully blocked 5,500 offers. And bear in mind that every offer can include thousands of products!

This saves Accell Group considerable revenue losses, reputation damage to the brands and protects against potential claims for damages. The same goes for Accell Group resellers. The retail trade also needs to be able to do business profitably in a safe environment, both online and in physical stores. It is difficult to compete with non-authorised products that are sold for a fraction of the price. By blocking illegal trade, we prevent those products from entering the market. And consumers should be able to rely on the fact they are buying a safe product from a familiar brand, whether that is a complete bicycle or a spare part. A Lapierre has to be an original Lapierre and a Koga has to be a real Koga. Anyone racing down a mountain at 50 km/h needs to be certain that they are not riding a problem-prone fake product. Safety above all else.”     

What do you expect for the future?
“We have the problem under control for Accell Group brands. We have found and eliminated the illegal companies and networks. There will always be new ones, but that is inevitable with strong brands. We are winning the battle because we are not giving them the time to develop their operations.”