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Evidence of Use (EoU) Investigations – Potential IP Investigator Opportunity

Here are three intriguing quotes from a May 14, 2018 article published in Forbes titled, “How Human Detectives Catch AI Thieves,” written by Marshall Phelps:

“EoU research can uncover not only patent infringement but counterfeit knockoff products as well. A Google search may reveal the scale and cost of counterfeiting worldwide, but it can’t actually identify any of it in the marketplace. Only humans can do that.”

“AOP sleuths then launch a global investigation to analyze the products in question. They physically go to retail stores and trade shows all over the world — something no AI algorithm can do”

“The group sent its detectives into retail stores in major cities around the world to take six pictures of every box with a product claiming to have the advertised technology — one photo of each side of the box. The goal was to see if the product packaging displayed the appropriate serialized label proving it had been properly licensed.”


The term Evidence of Use (EoU) is generally used to describe uncovering the use of patented or trademark protected property without authorization.


AOP is the acronym for a company named Article One Partners (AOP) that specializes in EoU research projects.


The Forbes article does an excellent job of presenting an overview of AOP and its capacity, as well as its history (which includes the noteworthy achievement of acquiring a reputation for becoming “patent troll killers” by developing a knack for uncovering “prior art.”) But, what is significant to this blogger (for purposes of this post’s focus) is that AOP has embraced an investigative strategy that recognizes the need for on-the-ground investigators to follow-up on research in order to collect tangible proof of infringement.

Here is another quote from the Forbes article, “…for example, they search for evidence that the company’s patented innovations are being used without permission in other companies’ products and services. If they discover such evidence, it can be used to confront an infringer and force it to compensate the patent owner.


The AOP research process is comprehensive, but the four essential steps to their EoU research/investigative method is as follows:

  1. Collect all the patented and trademark protected information
  2. Translate technical patent and trademark information into functional terms
  3. Determine what types of products the patented technology and trademarked information can be used with
  4. Send investigators out into the field and search for the products using the patented technology and trademarked property in the marketplace without authorization


AOP publicizes access to a community of 42,000 global researchers to meet their clients’ needs. This may be an opportunity for private investigators and brand protection specialists to be of service. Consider visiting the AOP homepage and explore whether or not you’re suited to join their community of researchers.



Algorithms may provide the leads, but it’s the field investigator that must follow-up in order to get the “goods.” Well done, Article One Partners.

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Ron Alvarez is an IP investigations and protection consultant and writer in New York City. He is a former NYPD lieutenant where he investigated robbery, narcotics, internal affairs, and fine art theft cases. Ron has since coordinated the private investigation of international fraud and money laundering cases, as well as IP-related investigations and research involving the four pillars of IP: copyright, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. Ron is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and earned a B.A. in Government and Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. He has written a number of articles for various investigative publications, as well as published "The World of Intellectual Property (IP) Protection and Investigations" in November 2021.

3 comments on “Evidence of Use (EoU) Investigations – Potential IP Investigator Opportunity

  1. Yes agreed, well done AOP. One wonders: Since intellectual assets represent 87% of global value, the largest asset class in the world according to the World Bank, is there a way to prevent patent infringement before counterfeits reach retail shelves? A White House study showed that every year about 4% of intellectual assets are stolen. That’s about US$1 trillion worth and about 4 times more than gets licensed i.e. less than 1% of all these assets ever get licensed, according to Price Waterhouse Coopers. There is a huge disparity between the share of global value that’s occupied by intellectual assets and the share of global trade that’s occupied by intellectual assets.
    .. On the global balance sheet, there is $69 trillion worth of assets, of which $60 trillion (roughly 7% from PWC and OTI data) of the value is in intellectual assets.
    .. On the trade side, intellectual assets comprise less than $326B worth of transactions out of $41 trillion total, a mere 0.8%!
    .. Intellectual assets represent 87% of the value but less than 1% of the trade. Why the huge disparity?
    A new company (not mine) ScanTrust is using blockchain-based QR codes to track products anywhere at all times. Another globally deployed software platform, Ideation, (with which I’m affiliated) encrypts and records intellectual assets on the blockchain enabling licensees to also record the license and otherwise value, manage and market IP with an irrefutable record. At long last, there are more and more ways to finally solve this problem.

  2. Ron Alvarez

    Thank you for your comment Roxanne. And for providing such staggering statistics. I could not agree with you more. The ideal objective should be to prevent counterfeits from reaching the shelves. And I believe blockchain technology will be one of the most effective ways to protect intellectual property assets (of all kinds) going forward. The U.S. Congressional Subcommittee on Oversight Research and Technology had a thought-provoking hearing just two weeks ago (May 8th) titled, “Leveraging Blockchain Technology to Improve Supply Chain Management and Combat Counterfeit Goods.” The distinguished panel of IP professionals that testified collectively felt that the application of blockchain technology into their IP protection programs and strategies is the way of the future, and another way to combat the infringement problem. Thank you again for your comment and for introducing me to Scan Trust and Ideation.

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