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Online monitoring tool helps companies protect brand on eBay

By Linda Rosencrance
May 2, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - A module of the latest release of GenuOne Inc.'s Internet monitoring software, GenuNet 3.0, allows companies to protect their brands by patroling online distribution channels, including online trading sites such as eBay Inc. and business-to-business trade boards, to watch out for suspicious activities.
Through an agreement with San Jose-based eBay, the GenuNet Marketplace Tracking module queries eBay's back end, extracting key pieces of information for the auction listings of a particular company, according to Suneer Maheshwary, product manager at Boston-based GenuOne.
Then the company can contact eBay's verified-owner-rights program and ask to have an auction ended if it feels its license is being infringed on, Maheshwary said.
For example, the software is designed to help a company detect whether someone is selling counterfeit goods under a particular brand name, and then enables the company to move quickly to ask eBay to end a sale before damage is done to its reputation.
Currently a brand owner can search eBay's front end and contact the online auction via fax if it thinks its intellectual property is being infringed on or if someone is selling counterfeit items, he said. "EBay then can shut down the auction if they determine there is a problem," he said. "But this is a time-consuming process."
Maheshwary said GenuNet automates the process, enables its customers to do advanced searches and tracks the information over time so the company can take action against an organized supplier who is selling hundreds of items on eBay everyday, rather than against someone who is selling one product once a month.
"We are able to provide e-mail alerts to customers, and they can then send an e-mail to eBay instead of faxing them the information," Maheshwary said. "And then eBay can either continue the auction or they can send a warning letter to the seller -- something which isn't currently available in the verified-owner-rights program."
If eBay decides to shut down an auction, he said, GenuNet allows eBay to send the seller an e-mail describing the reason for the shutdown, something which also is not currently available. "And the software lets them track the history of a [disputed] auction to determine whether eBay shut it down," he said.
EBay officials couldn't be reached for comment.
GenuNet advanced search and filtering capabilities have helped luxury goods company Richemont protect the reputation of its brands from unauthorized products, said Jane Schultz-taylor, an intellectual property attorney for Geneva-based Richemont, which owns such companies as Cartier and Montblanc.
The new features in GenuNet 3.0 alert the company to potential infringing auctions and help automate the process fortaking action against this activity, she said.
The price for the software, which will be generally available in 30 days, ranges from $400 to $1,500 per month.

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