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How to deal with copycats

This time of year is a total whirlwind for small businesses; you’re working all hours to make, create and fulfil Christmas orders, doing your best to keep your social presence and CRM going, all whilst trying to somehow get some sleep, and not look like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards when you see the people in your life. Easy, right?!

So the last thing you need in the festive season is a legal battle. Unfortunately, being targeted by copycats is a frequent byproduct of success for small businesses. I’m sure that so many of you reading this have frustratingly been through this process!

Most recently @laurenastondesigns was a victim of the copycat phenomenon. Lauren’s beautiful chunky knit santa hats had become really popular and were soon being replicated by much bigger businesses. Cheaper, poorer quality knock-offs made their way onto marketplaces, at a third of the price of the originals.

To make matters even worse, the culprits used Lauren’s own photography to promote their copies, complete with her face in them! Lauren says, “There were over 30 businesses using an image of me to sell a knock-off version of my product, without my permission, and using my actual face to do so. It felt very much out of my control and if I’m honest, it felt like a total violation.”

Lauren wrote a great piece on her blog about how to deal with copying, some of her tips include:

  1. Try to obtain registered protection for your designs, brand names and logos where possible.
  2. Some of your creative output (photographs, artistic works, blog posts etc) will automatically be protected by copyright in the UK – good to know.
  3. Use the resources available to you; if someone is selling an infringing product online, most marketplaces have reporting programs you can use to get things removed.
  4. Ask for help! If the above hasn’t worked, go legal. A strongly worded letter from a solicitor can be a great help. Lauren says, to make sure you get an idea of cost in advance, to avoid scary surprises!

I’ll leave you with a quote from Sonya Teclai;

“You can mimic a result, but not the creativity”

Here here.


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