Over seven months 1,900 fraudulent listings, worth an estimated EUR 17m (US$19m), were removed from online marketplaces

Over seven months 1,900 fraudulent listings, worth an estimated EUR 17m (US$19m), were removed from online marketplaces

Italian sole manufacturer Vibram has managed to remove 1,900 fraudulent listings, worth an estimated EUR17m (US$19m), from online marketplaces after embarking on a new brand protection strategy.

The company, which produces Vibram-branded rubber outsoles for footwear as well as its own Vibram FiveFingers shoes, partnered with protection expert MarkMonitor last November to tackle the growing number of counterfeit products online.

Now, after conducting an extensive scan of more than 60 online marketplaces, they have removed more than 416,000 infringing items. MarkMonitor has also enforced against counterfeit goods on 353 websites and resolved issues on 198 infringing sites.

"Our barefooting concept will continue to evolve and we want to do everything in our power to ensure that those consumers seeking genuine products are not duped by counterfeiters," says Mike Wiltshire of Primal Lifestyle, official UK distributor for Vibram FiveFingers. "Many of the counterfeit products are distributed via online marketplaces, or on illegitimate websites using stolen imagery and text, and can look very similar to our genuine website and products."

Wiltshire explains many customers do not realise they have been deceived until they receive the poor quality product or even at times, no product at all.

"We are working diligently to take action against online counterfeiters," he adds. "Tackling the problem of counterfeiting and brand infringement is an ongoing challenge and it would be nigh-on impossible without the right expertise and technology in place."

Vibram was established in the 1930s by Italian climber Vitale Bramani who sought to introduce rubber-soled shoes for the sport. Seven decades later the company designed the Vibram FiveFingers shoes that take inspiration from human feet. The brand now offers a variety of the unique designs to cover a range of activities — from fitness training and yoga, to running, trekking and sailing.

According to MarkMonitor, counterfeiting online affects brands across the globe, and a robust and effective brand protection strategy has become an inevitable requirement for all organisations conducting their business on the internet.

"We are still in the early stages of the campaign with Vibram," adds Jerome Sicard, MarkMonitor regional manager for southern Europe. "However, the initial results are very promising and we will continue to work closely to protect the brand and its customers and take robust action where appropriate."