INSYNC Virtual Summit: January 2021 – A Recap

The INSYNC Virtual Summit: January 2021 brought together expert speakers and 100s of brands to meet, share and collaborate in an exclusive online event. Attendees learnt first-hand from Brand Protection experts in other leading brands and gained actionable insights to help drive real change in the fight against infringers.

Delivered in a high-tempo format, the Summit focused on industry collaboration and methods for using Brand Protection to maximize the online opportunity.

The agenda comprised of:

  • An introduction from Incopro CEO Simon Baggs;
  • A keynote delivered by Reilly Stephens at Retail Prophet on the future of e-commerce in a post-pandemic world;
  • A panel session hosted by 3M and Managing IP on how the pandemic has affected Brand Protection teams;
  • And exclusive brand-only roundtables on challenges and trends facing the industry.

See the key takeaways, recording of the panel session, and roundtable insights below.

Key takeaways

1. An explosion in e-commerce and platforms under the microscope

2020 was a year like no other. The pandemic has facilitated an explosion in e-commerce, with Brand Protection teams scrambling to keep up.

E-commerce grew by 45% in the US in a single year. And 1 in 4 online transactions now take place on social media.

2020 also saw tech giants come under greater scrutiny for the role they play in facilitating prohibited and harmful content.

Changes to the regulatory landscape are likely on the horizon and will have profound consequences for the Brand Protection community.

2. COVID has changed the way consumers interact with brands

With brick-and-mortar retail decimated by the pandemic, consumers have shifted towards online marketplaces and social media platforms to purchase every day items.

However, what’s clear, is that brands need to plan for what’s next. Consumers are no longer looking for ‘omnichannel experiences’. Instead, they are longing for seamless integration between the online and offline worlds – and brands they can trust.

“Consumers are now seeking out experiences with brands that can provide seamless integration between the online and offline worlds.”

Reilly Stephens, Direct of Insights, Retail Prophet

3. Brand Protection teams are adapting to the challenges

Offline investigations have been severely limited by the pandemic. Brand Protection teams have therefore turned to online monitoring and enforcement to protect their brands and intellectual property.

According to a recent INSYNC Community survey, the number one strategic priority for 2021 is increasing collaboration internally – with 64% citing this as a priority. 

Brands who have succeeded in building cross-functional collaboration, such as 3M, typically see increased awareness of the role protecting brand can play in business success, ensuring alignment with business goals – and in many cases easing pressures on budget.

3M & Managing IP Panel Recording

The discussion explored how the pandemic has affected Brand Protection teams – from how to deal with a shifting threat landscape to how to collaborate effectively internally – offering key insights to drive success in 2021.


Colette Durst
Chief Trademark Counsel, 3M

Jennifer Ehrlich
Strategic Communications Leader, 3M

Ed Conlon
Managing Editor, Managing IP

Brand Roundtable Insights

What does the future of E-Commerce mean for brands?

Priority sales channels a core focus
Alignment with e-commerce strategy is needed to ensure that key marketplace channels for sales are prioritized, reducing customer confusion.

Alignment with e-commerce strategy critical
There should be engagement at a senior level between teams responsible for Brand Protection and e-commerce – marketplaces are a core channel to control for many Brand Protection programs.

Broadening focus to whole consumer experience
Brands should consider how they can protect all digital touchpoints to provide consistent consumer experience. This approach requires interlinking with marketing as well as e-commerce teams.

Platforms to watch
After Amazon and Alibaba, Walmart and Target were pointed to as being key channels to watch in the next couple of years, as well as regional platforms like Shopee and Mercado Libre.

What are the key emerging threats for brands in 2021?

Budgetary pressures
Participants are expecting budget cuts in 2021, with the impact likely to particularly be felt by luxury and retail brands.

Shifting operational models
Brands have to expand online. This means new channels such as marketplaces and social media platforms have to be cleaned up to safeguard legitimate sales.

More parties involved in brand misuse
Bad actors are now part of complex operations but often appear as isolated units, making enforcement more difficult.

Bad actors avoiding detection
Bad actors are becoming smarter by avoiding detection using encrypted services such as WhatsApp and Telegram.

Return on investment key
ROI was raised as an important element that could be further honed with Brand Protection technology.

How are businesses structured to address the evolving brand protection landscape?

Diverse skillset needed

Teams have diverse skillset including intelligence analysis capability – important to deal with large volumes of data. Experience is broad, including practical enforcement, online / offline investigation, and legal.

The value of lobbying arms

A government lobbying arm is important to be able to influence new legislation that could help. Brands need to be able to back this up with strong data.

Test purchases very difficult

Authentication of counterfeits via test purchase is now very difficult. For now, teams have pivoted away from offline investigations to online.

Loss of team resource

There has been substantial loss of legally qualified personnel from Brand Protection teams, as they have been needed to fulfil other legal work given the rise in disputes, contract changes etc.

Intelligence sharing

Attendees called for brands to be more open to sharing specific intelligence, e.g. about co-branded products, so that joint action can be taken.

Brand Protection: Better Together

We share a vision to re-balance the dynamic between rights owners and platforms on the other.

We aim to help drive a respect for rights online, and help brands re-establish control over how their IP is used.”

Simon Baggs, President Online Brand Protection & Content Protection at Corsearch & CEO at Incopro