Navigating the Processes of Knockoff Takedowns with NightCap's Michael Benarde

Future of IP Protection Podcast - Michael Benarde

In this episode, Branddy speaks to Michael Benarde, Co-Founder & President at NightCap, a maker of drink spiking prevention products. During the episode, they talk about the creation of NightCap, their deal on Shark Tank, and the appearance of knockoff products shortly afterwards. They also discuss the ways small businesses can keep themselves protected, the financial challenges small businesses face in fighting counterfeiters across online marketplace platforms, and the different resources, programs, and organizations that can help.

Get in touch with your host, Branddy Spence.

Topics Discussed

  • How Michael started NightCap with his sister, how they evolved the product, brought it to market, and went on Shark Tank to receive the fastest deal in the show's history.
  • The challenges NightCap faces in trying to take down knockoffs of their product — 3,000 of them so far — and the game of whack-a-mole that they play across online marketplaces.
  • Which platforms are the most difficult to get knockoffs removed from, and how organizations like the IACC have helped NightCap to do so successfully.
  • Michael's experience with using Amazon's Neutral Patent Evaluation Program that evaluates infringement through a third-party law firm.
  • Advice for small businesses on how to go about protecting their IP, including using software to scan the internet, making sure to have IP protections in place, and looking to organizations like the IACC to help.
  • How fighting IP infringement is a financial challenge for small businesses, and why sometimes it's too costly to take action on certain platforms.

Guest Quotes

  1. "They see something that's super easy to copy, like our product. There's literally zero barriers to entry. There's not even a mold for it. You can make it at home if you wanted, really. So they find some stuff that's easy to make, that's selling a lot. If you go on Shark Tank, your sales are going to probably go up a lot, and they find that, and they just start pushing them out. So we've taken down over 3,000 knockoffs to date. We get them all down, but the hard thing is that they can sometimes be put up faster than you can take them down." (4:54)
  2. "We work with different organizations. It was actually really difficult at first to get them removed from there. But we started working with this nonprofit called IACC, and they are the one organization that has actually gotten stuff down for us. They have a really high success rate. It's a nonprofit. They do amazing work." (6:10)
  3. "And then there's a few different platforms here and there that don't respect IP at all. You literally have to go get a court order or something, which costs tens of thousands of dollars, potentially, just to get off knockoffs that may not be selling that much. But some of the platforms make it so if you are a small business, you can't even afford to get them down. It's built for large corporations, which is sad." (6:45)
  4. "Make sure that you have your proper IP protected and have covered all your bases. And that way, when you find [knockoffs], you can use these platforms to automatically remove them. Sometimes with the Chinese ones, they can get really difficult. It's not easy." (10:56)

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