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Our private investigators have extensive experience with solving economic crime cases regarding counterfeit items such as bootleg clothing, movies, records, and cigarettes. NAI combats counterfeit items by working closely with State and Local law enforcement agencies to aggressively pursue counterfeiters. PublicRadio.org’s Marketplace recently featured NAI’s trademarking infringment case performed for Mister Softee imposters.

According to a report by the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition Inc., every year, trademark counterfeiting costs American businesses hundreds of billions of dollars. It is important to recognize that almost all trademark counterfeiting schemes are also responsible for generating cash for underworld organizations that may have direct ties to crimes like narcotic trafficking, money laundering and yes, even terrorism.

For this reason, it is recommended that private investigators be hired to conduct trademark counterfeit investigations in order to get in-depth trademark usage information.

What is a trademark?

To understand the process of a trademark investigation, it is important to first understand the definition of a trademark.

A trademark identifies the source or origin of products or services used in transactions. Through the use of words, brands, images or devices, it distinguishes items from the products or services of others.

In order to identify an infringement of a particular trademark, our private investigators can execute a trademark counterfeit investigation to monitor and pinpoint commercial exploitations. NAI investigators who specialize in trademark counterfeit investigations are presented with these inquiries on a daily basis. Very often, the policies of the police department prevent them from going the extra mile to conduct a thorough investigation, or, they simply do not have the time and man power to devote to these numerous cases. This is why hiring one of our private investigator is the best solution.

Various Types of Trademark Counterfeit Investigations

Investigations usually determine the complete life cycle of a particular trademark. Therefore, the investigation will be case specific and, will more than likely include, but may not be limited to:

• When the trademark was first used in trade or on a website
• Determining the identity of the person or business using the trademark
• What types of products and/or services are being sold using the trademark and where are they being sold.
• How are the products being sold? For example, through retail, wholesale or distributorships?
• What is the size and extent of the counterfeit operation and what are the proceeds that it generates?
• What is the trial history of the person or business involved and what are their assets.

Tools Used to Solve These Investigations

• First and foremost, consultations during the process will determine the investigative strategy along the way.
• They will canvass known areas for counterfeit products and trademark infringement.
• They will obtain samples of products, many times using anonymous ‘front companies’.
• They will verify compliance with existing licensing agreements and/or ‘cease and desist’ letters or warnings.
• Conduct undercover surveillance of a person or business entity
• Help coordinate civil seizures with local and federal police departments
• Conduct detailed background checks that include the research of media advertisements.
• Conduct searches of corporate filings, business directories, professional license databases etc.

The United States is a first-use country. According to the International Trademark Association, this means that the first use of a trademark establishes protection of the rights to the trademark, even without registering it. Therefore, doing due diligence before utilizing a trademark by hiring a private investigator to conduct a detailed trademark counterfeit investigation, can be invaluable both in litigation and saving money when developing a product or service.