SnapDragon, the Edinburgh-based legal tech company, has pushed the button on an automated brand monitoring platform that it hopes will help fight online criminal gangs of counterfeiters and copycats.
Fake toys, makeup items and electrical goods can prove fatal or cause serious injury because counterfeits do not conform to the rigorous quality and safety standards genuine brands must comply with.
Profits from the sale of counterfeits can make their way into underground economies and frequently fuel illegal and criminal activity. It is estimated that the trade in fake goods makes up 2.5 per cent of all world trade and growing rapidly.
Rachel Jones, the founder of SnapDragon, said: “Our goal is to drastically reduce the global sale of counterfeit goods. Fake goods can destroy brands – I should know – it very nearly happened to me.
“I took action to fight back and have spent the last few years helping other companies do the same. Today we are automating that process.
“By enabling companies, large and small, to find fakes and by empowering them with the knowledge to take action, sales of counterfeit goods can be prevented, brands and the consumer can both be kept safe, businesses remain profitable and fund flow to criminal enterprises cut.”
Jones became the victim of a highly sophisticated online counterfeiting scam, where her award-winning baby product, Totseat, was copied and sold online by fraudsters.
Having established SnapDragon, the firm now works with a diverse portfolio of clients in the UK and US including Harris Tweed, Morphsuits, Johnstons of Elgin and Glencairn.
The skills and specialist knowledge built up by the firm’s team of linguists and IP experts over the course of three years has shaped the design of the “Swoop” software.
The firm is looking to take its online brand protection service to a wider market, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with the launch of the monitoring platform packaged as a software-as-a-service (SaaS).
Mandy Haeburn-Little, chief executive of the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, said: “I am genuinely delighted to see a company as respected, nimble and visionary as SnapDragon emerge.
“Ironically, counterfeits and fake goods are areas where there has been considerable entrepreneurship as malicious and reckless companies have seen the opportunity to make a fast buck, regardless of the ruthless damage they cause – whether this be physical, financial or to infrastructure.
“It is precisely because of these insidious and entirely malicious companies that we need champions in the world of protection.”