Taking A Stab At Mobile Apps, Web Services, And A New Approach to Client Service – uFaker
Wouldn’t it be great if a law firm created a revenue generating internet service using on the web and mobile platforms that helped clients solve a real business problem? IP firm Epstein Drangel, LLP has created such a service along with an iOS app for identifying, reporting and combatting counterfeit merchandise.
The service, called “uFaker”, provides intellectual property owners a technology platform for sharing and tracking counterfeit activity among a client’s IP team, which could include lawyers, investigators, licensees and law enforcement.
For Trademark owners, the service offers the following features through its reporting app and its web browser service:
- Roles for lawyers, investigators, licensees and law enforcement
- Means to report, track and coordinate on counterfeit investigations in real-time
- Tools to activate and reward smartphone users (“Brand Hunters'”) to identify and report counterfeits
- Search functionality, cross tabulations and heat mapping for tracking counterfeit goods
The informational materials also indicate that the service offers a database of background check, customs import/export history and import/export alerts on counterfeit shipments.
uFaker attempts to harness the power of mobile crowd sourcing by rewarding the public to download an app to report possible counterfeit merchandise. uFaker calls these people “Brand Hunters”. The Brand Hunter can use the smart phone app to document counterfeit items that he or she finds in stores, on the street, or on the internet. Identified items are shared with the relevant trademark owners via the uFaker service. To promote its app and provide more information about the service, the firm has created a website page using the domain www.ufaker.com.
It remains to be seen whether this idea will be successful for the firm (beyond the impressive PR received so far) and its IP clients. Based on our initial look at the on-line service and the Brand Hunter iPhone app (shots of the app can be found below), uFaker appears relatively basic. Admittedly, we did not have access to the client-side of the uFaker service, which may have more sophisticated design and capabilities. The iPhone app has two very basic screens: the first with fields for identifying counterfeit merchandise and the second with the sign-in screen (yes, the sign-in screen is second). The app does not come with any resources to help identify counterfeit merchandise. While the website provides some resources, at this point, there are only 7 companies identified and the amount of the information is limited: Angry Birds, Dream Lites, Eros, Glow Pets, Intenze, Microtouch, and Pillow Pets. If uFaker is intended to catch on with consumers as sources of information, Epstein Drangel will need to put more resources into its apps and the webservice to make them better designed and more compelling to use.