I See the Light
Identifying a Competing Manufacturer Overseas
What can sometimes seem like a simple issue to resolve doesn’t always work out that way. In this instance, Marksmen was asked to locate the manufacturer of a competing lighting product.
Our challenge in this case, was that our client didn’t have much information to go on. We were given very general information about the competing product and possible retail stores where it might be sold.
Insights & Approach
Marksmen typically begins these cases with some seemingly obvious approaches to make sure no ancillary detail was missed, and then go deeper, depending on evidence or clues collected.
1. A general Internet search and specific checking into the website of the company who sold the competing product (as well as our client’s product) yielded no information about any manufacturer.
2. Undercover calls into several departments in various store locations did not provide answers or clues either.
3. We next went on ground to visit a local retail store and discovered the competing lighting on display right next to our client’s product. Yet all the display promotion, pricing, barcodes and SKU numbers for both products identified these as the client’s product. Additionally, boxes for both products had very similar trade dress, stickers and assembly instructions.
4. Assuming a suitable pretext, we spoke with 3 different managers in the store who said they couldn’t or wouldn’t provide us with manufacturing information.
5. Back at the office we ran barcodes on acknowledged industry sites for global locator info, trade item numbers, shipping container codes and lighting products. We were able to determine through one of these searches that the competing product was manufactured in China. We corroborated this information and the address by running running the data against other sources and double-checked the findings by using the client’s known contact points as a control.
6. We went back to the retail website of the company selling both the client’s product and the competing product using only the client’s trademark as our search. We assembled a list of pricing and SKU numbers for all of the client’s lighting products, but noted one SKU number listed to the competing product.
7. We next called several customer sales reps in the store (providing them with the SKU anomaly in question and no one we spoke with could identify the product by brand name.
8. We were eventually directed to a buyer at corporate who searched company databases, confirmed the China company we identified as the manufacturer, their address and supplied us with a phone number.
Continuing in our diligence, we eventually located a buyer at corporate who searched company databases, confirmed the China company we identified as the manufacturer, their address and supplied us with a phone number.
By not stopping at what seemed like several dead ends, Marksmen was able to provide our client with the precise information they were looking for. We did this through a combination of dogged determination, having more tools in our toolkit than most of our competitors and then thinking creatively on how to use them.
Marksmen’s Intellectual Property experts provide discreet, confidential and relentless IP (trademark, domain name and patent) investigations, acquisitions, and online brand protection services for businesses of any size.