Taking Swift Action to Protect Your IP with SwiftPaws' Meghan Wolfgram
Meghan and Branddy talk about how SwiftPaws was created, Meghan's time on Shark Tank, and how they're combating the scams and counterfeits that have popped up since. They also discuss the need for IP protection early on, the processes for getting counterfeits removed, how counterfeit products can be a danger to customers, and advice for entrepreneurs on how to better protect their IP.
- How Meghan created SwiftPaws and brought her product to life, and what it was like pitching on Shark Tank.
- The importance of securing IP protection first before bringing your product into the world.
- The types of scams and frauds that SwiftPaws has had to contend with, as well as counterfeit products that have cropped up.
- How the Amazon Patent Evaluation Express (APEX) program works, and how Meghan was able to get a counterfeit product removed.
- How counterfeit products can not only fool customers but can endanger them as well due to a disregard of safety procedures.
- Why Meghan relies on both a strong legal team and her investors for guidance and help if something goes wrong.
- Advice to other entrepreneurs around IP protection, and to know the policies and procedures of the channels you're selling through.
"That's the beauty of the USPTO. Our patented trademark system. It's there so that people like me, who are inventors, who are dreamers, can move forward and put their ideas into the world... You have this piece of protection so that you have a chance to really make the most of what you've invented." (9:58)
"It breaks my heart when I see it because people get taken advantage of. Consumers don't always even know what the value of the product is, and they just see that it's cool, and they see, 'About $60? I'd pay for that.' And then they never get anything, and they never really even have a chance to do some recourse. By the time they want to, it's gone. So that's something we've dealt with for years, and that usually happens around the holidays or various times. We're always keeping an eye out for that type of scam." (11:53)
"We went through the process and that's been removed. As smooth as that was, it's still a moment of panic because all of a sudden you see what took you years to create has taken somebody months to recreate — albeit poorly, but that doesn't matter. There's a few things that really hurt, and the first thing is, of course, all that effort. Now, okay, is this going to undercut me? Is this going to take away business?" (14:53)
"So just having a strong team around you that you can go to for advice. So when you panic, you've got those panic moments. My first thought is, who do I know that's in my circle that I can go to? So already having those relationships in place saves you from having to find them when there's a problem. It makes you a lot more nimble and faster to respond to." (20:21)
"I think my number one piece of advice would be to know the industry that you're in, know the vertical you're in, know what protection you can have, and then know the channel that you're on. ... Every single channel, they actually have really robust terms, rules, processes in place to handle this type of thing. Learn it now, learn it before you need it. That way, when you have to do a DMCA takedown, you know how to do it. It's not a surprise and new, and you're fumbling through the process." (22:02)
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