Copyright & Trademark violations: Rural Marketing Success ?

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 9277 , Published on 30 January 2011

Copyright, Trademark and patenting of products are some ways by which organizations protect themselves from being copied, misused or misinterpreted in any form which can benefit the competitors. This is done in order to protect their uniqueness, identity and differentiating factors from competitors. But do these tools and methods actually protect brands and organizations? Is there an effective implementation of such laws?


India is a huge country which has diverse cultures, varying demographics and dynamic customer attitudes. The Indian market can be most effectively classified on the basis of urban and rural areas. Indian urban centres are places of high income levels, education levels and a higher spending power. People living in urban areas are attracted to innovative marketing and creative marketing and advertising. On the other hand, the growing rural market has people who are attracted to products which are endorsed by popular celebrities. Any product, which is being endorsed by celebrities or associated with popular movies, finds an instant recognition. This leads a direct usage of images of Bollywood stars, cricketers, movie posters etc, without seeking any kind of permission to do so.


A controversial ad campaign used a voice similar to legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan, hosting the popular show Kaun Banega Crorepati and promoting a brand of rice. This advertisement shows the improper use of brand Amitabh Bachchan and KBC without seeking permission. This was just one of the many ads where copyrighted brand names and popular celebrities, who are not their official brand ambassadors, are used to sell products, which is especially successful in targeting the rural market.


Celebrity images, movie promotional photographs, popular icons etc are all copyright protected material. Companies spend millions of rupees patenting these symbols, characters etc. But violations of these copyrights and trademarks occur very frequently in the rural market.

Fake Matchsticks

Products like firecrackers, matchsticks e.g. Diwali crackers, rockets etc have a huge market in India. They comfortably use celebrity photos of stars like Shahrukh Khan, Tendulkar, Hritik Roshan, Kareena Kapoor etc which infact is wrong as use of such photos is prohibited for commercial purposes, until prior permission is taken or a royalty is paid. Logos of famous matchsticks brands are copied as show in the image. Similarly products for children like lunch boxes, water bottles use characters like Spiderman, Disney, Tom & Jerry for their products. Use of famous movie characters like Toystory, Harry Potter etc do wonders to lure customers in the rural market, but this is actually against the law of copyright until a permission is taken.


Not only is the case with the fake celebrity endorsements but also the issue is of actual fake products in the rural market.


Such markets have duplicates of famous products and brands like Parachute, Vaseline, Lux, Hamam etc. A slight difference in the brand name and similar packaging ensures that the rural customer ends up picking up the fake product rather than the original one. Rural markets these days have access to TV and print media. Through the media they are exposed to the original product e.g. A rural customer would have definitely seen Parachute oil’s commercial on TV or in the local newspaper. This is the point of vulnerability that the local fake product producers exploit. They make a copy of Parachute oil with similar look and feel and sell it as a price marginally lower than the original. In many cases the original product is not available at all in such markets so the fake product only sells. So the marketing was done by Marico but the actual sale was made by a small time fake product producer.


That’s how it works sometimes !


Despite strong laws in place, keeping an eye on the entire violation process is virtually impossible because of the huge extent of the products and companies doing the same. Even though misusing copyright protected images, names and icons is wrong, companies use them without hesitation as pros of luring and tapping the rural marketing is much more than the cons of misuse of such images.


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