Harris Tweed takes fight to online counterfeiters

The Harris Tweed Authority (HTA) has started an online brand protection campaign to try to clamp down on abuse of its trademarks.

The efforts – which will be led by Scottish brand protection company SnapDragon Monitoring – will focus on scouting the web to find instances in which Harris Tweed trademarks are being falsely used to sell inferior copies of the world-renowned fabric.

All genuine Harris Tweed products are made from virgin wool and dyed, spun and handwoven by islanders on Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra in Scotland's Outer Hebrides, and since 1911 have carried the distinctive Orb logo (pictured).

The brand has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years, particularly in markets like Japan and China, and is now estimated to bring in more than £10m (around $13m) a year in revenues. Back in 2003, the industry was thought to be almost on its last legs.

Predictably, the brand's rejuvenation has stimulated counterfeiters to leap into action. HTA chief executive Lorna MacAuley said that the organization had been forced to take action to curb an uptick in listings on e-commerce sites that appear to be offering counterfeit Harris Tweed items.

"It has taken generations to build the Harris Tweed brand into the popular global phenomena we see today," she said. "It is our job to guard against unauthorised use of the brand and we take that role very seriously."

"The Harris Tweed Orb is one of the most recognisable trademarks in fashion, which makes it a target for fakes," added SnapDragon's founder and CEO Rachel Jones. "Our team of experts will work to eliminate the sale of Harris Tweed counterfeits online and protect its reputation for the future."

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