Internet Enforcement: A Collaborative Approach


As the opportunities for global business growth increased with the commercialization of the Internet beginning in the 1990s, the potential for consumer deception spiraled. For an international consumer financial services business like The Western Union Company, the Internet has provided a powerful engine for new business expansion. But, the Internet also has created a host of legal challenges, evolving in remarkable ways as Internet “pirates” create new methods to deceive consumers for financial gain.

Western Union has marshaled its various internal legal, security and compliance forces, and collaborated with outside counsel and technology service providers, to tackle the challenge of Internet enforcement. The company’s tactics would serve equally well for other brand owners who experience Internet-based trademark infringement or other forms of consumer deception or fraud and need to develop a cost-effective plan for dealing with the damage to the business.

The Common Denominator

Unauthorized use of Western Union’s famous brand, is the common denominator for the illegal or deceptive activity that Western Union combats over the Internet. For example, offshore betting and gambling sites may make unauthorized display of the WESTERN UNION logo to direct U.S.-based customers to use WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER® services. Similarly, Web sites promoting sales of prescription or other (e.g., steroid) drugs, child pornography and various scams may direct purchasers to use WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER® services as a payment method to receive the goods or services.1 The association created by this unauthorized use of the WESTERN UNION logo tarnishes Western Union’s valuable brand.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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