Search for the official account of a famous brand on WeChat, and you might be in for a surprise.
There are close to one hundred accounts that use the name “Rolex”, for example, and more than one of them appears to be verified. How is a user to tell them apart? What if it’s your brand with dozens of copycat accounts showing up? How can you direct users to the right one?
Fake official accounts are everywhere, particularly for famous brands. Here’s a screenshot of what comes up when you search for “BMW”:
A little bit of looking under the hood is all it takes to figure out that many of these BMW official accounts likely have no official affiliation with the brand.
There is formal process to both register and verify your WeChat official account, but there is still room for fraud. While examples of trademark infringement by verified WeChat official accounts are less frequent, they still exist.
Not all Verifications are Equal
We see similar results for most luxury brands, such as Louis Vuitton here:
These official accounts are claiming to be Louis Vuitton, but they are actually gray-market import services. Most of the accounts even have the gold checkmark on their logo, meaning they are verified. If we look at their account page, we see that they did their verification through Tencent Weibo (a Twitter-like service also owned by WeChat’s parent company).
Unlike WeChat, individuals can verify Weibo accounts, and with little more documentation than an ID card and a mobile phone number. Once that Weibo user links their verified Weibo account to their WeChat official account, the account looks and behaves like a verified WeChat official account. This is important because verified accounts are given preferential sorting in search results, as we see in the image above.
Another funny thing we see with these search results for Louis Vuitton is that some accounts are even spoofing the gold verified checkmark by adding it themselves into their logo. Very clever indeed!
Reporting Trademark Violations in WeChat
Confronted with these obstacles, your customers can have a hard time searching for your brand on WeChat. This is one reason most official account discovery is happening offline by scanning QR codes. Organizations need to be proactive in protecting their brands on WeChat. While WeChat can’t police your brand for you, they do provide a convenient but little known reporting mechanism within the app. Use it! Here’s how:
1. Follow the offending account
Once you’ve spotted someone violating your trademark, follow the account by selecting it from the search list and following it.
2. Report the account
From their account profile page, select “Report” from the menu in the top-right corner.
3. Select your complaint and submit
You’ll be given a menu with reasons to choose from. Make a selection and tap the “Send” button in the top right corner.
Please let us know what results you have in the comments section. We would assume that the more accounts that report violations, the faster you will see resolution. Good luck!
(Update 7/14/14: Following a report by Tech in Asia, WeChat removed most of the scam Louis Vuitton accounts shown above. Most of the other examples remain, however.)