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Lenzing’s Harold Weghorst Talks Transparency and Brand Protection

Global cellulosic fiber firm Lenzing Group recently created a partnership with Red Points, a specialist in online IP infringement detection and removal, to strengthen its existing brand protection efforts globally and enable brand monitoring services.

As Lenzing’s textile brands Tencel, Lenzing and Ecovero, as well as nonwovens brand Veocel, continue to generate widespread demand from industry partners and customers worldwide, the company said it is becoming increasingly important to protect its trademarks and provide full visibility into the brands’ presence online.

Sourcing Journal talked to Harold Weghorst, vice president of global marketing and branding at Lenzing, about the Red Points deal and how it advances IP initiatives.

Lenzing's Harold Weghorst, vice president of global marketing and branding, talks about how Red Points deal advances IP initiatives.
Harold Weghorst Courtesy

Sourcing Journal: Why has it become so important to provide full visibility into Lenzing’s brand presence online?

HW: That is one of the reasons behind our collaboration with Red Points. What we have seen over the past decade is rising consumer demand for product and material transparency, and this has led to brands becoming more involved in learning about the supply chain from material source to production process, and carbon dioxide emissions.

As product transparency and sustainability continue to be one of the top considerations for consumer purchases, especially post pandemic, brands have become even more committed to proving that their products are made of sustainable materials. That is something that we can provide, but we have to do that through a strong online presence.

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It is important that we put in place also a monitoring system to protect our supply chain partners and brand partner from any negative impact caused by infringement or accountability issues, but also greenwashing. We can prevent that with the right use of our trademark assets. Our ultimate aim is for the end consumer to receive great value for money in terms of sustainability and deliver the truth rather than any greenwashing.

SJ: How do your brand partners that use Lenzing’s trademarks like Tencel and Modal benefit from this program?

HW: In the first place, transparency and sustainability continue to be one of the top considerations. We launched back in 2018 our Lenzing E-branding Service that’s an online platform that gives our partners along the value chain access to our product brands, plus all the product brand assets. Ultimately, the platform serves to protect the Lenzing brand portfolio. It helps us in the first place, but it also helps our partners to protect our brands from fakes and there are many fakes around.

We have seen a large increase in demand for our brands, which is of course is nice for us, but we’ve also seen a large increase of counterfeits and infringements. We want to make sure that when a consumer sees Tencel or Tencel Modal or Tencel Lyocell or Veocel of Ecovero in the market, they can also count on it that the right fibers are inside the product that they buy.

SJ: How is Lenzing ensuring that the consumer receives the greatest value for their purchases in terms of sustainability?

HW: Our partnership with Red Points and wider efforts with our Lenzing E-branding Service and the fiber identification technology that we apply help us ensure that consumers are purchasing products made of genuine Lenzing fibers that meet the highest quality standards and sustainability standards. That is really giving greater transparency and that translates to greater value because consumers can have the peace of mind and also the assurance that the products they purchase are made from sustainable materials and not any greenwashing or fake materials.

SJ: The partnership with Red Points uses AI to detect IP infringement. Do you look at this as a turning point or a launching pad for the next generation of this kind of protection?

HW: I don’t see it necessarily as a turning point for us. It’s very much a strategy that we have been following. We’ve been looking actually for a partner that is able to provide us the service to protect our trademarks and with also the digital platform becoming more and more important, especially with the accelerated digital growth throughout the pandemic. With more people staying at home and working from home, online sales having increased. We found in Red Points an ideal partner that provides us with the technology solution that we were looking for to help us monitor and remove unauthorized use of our trademarks.

SJ: What do you see as the next step for Lenzing’s ongoing digitization?

HW: I see digitization as a key area and a key growth driver for us. The ongoing efforts we’re doing like our Lenzing E-branding service and our partnership with the blockchain traceability platform Textile Genesis have helped us to optimize and streamline our processes to make sure the brands get what they need for building sustainability credentials.

Another part of our digital capabilities is the regular refresh of our E-Branding Service in terms of providing value chain environments with new services, whether it be around verification or certification or licensing, because the field of digitalization, of course, is a fast developing field, we grow with it and take an agile approach in our whole E-branding platform.

We’re adding also new features, like a recently added digital hangtag that brands and retailers can also apply. We started our own e-commerce platform called E-Shop, where consumers can directly buy Tencel products online. We’d like to lead the way and help be at the forefront of new initiatives to create transparency and sustainability. We do a lot to improve the environmental footprint, whether it’s about CO2, neutral versions of our fibers or increasing the recycled content in our fibers, all the product innovations that we do around sustainability.