Posted: 29th August 2017

What do you do when someone blatantly copies what you are doing?

Your initial reaction may be to go in all guns blazing but what are you going to achieve?

Copying your work or plagiarising your content is actually actionable and you are perfectly within your rights to challenge this behaviour, especially if it is leading to confusion within your marketplace and causing you damage as a result.

Copyright  – an automatic right and arises whenever an individual or company creates a work. To qualify, a work should be regarded as original, and exhibit a degree of labour, skill or judgement

Passing Off – The law of passing off prevents one trader from misrepresenting goods or services as being the goods and services of another, and also prevents a trader from holding out his or her goods or services as having some association or connection with another when this is not true

Plagiarism – the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own

Someone who is passing off your content, name or brand as their own may cause you damage financially. You often see the big brands challenge the smaller ones if they are alerted to similarities in names, brands or content.

Usually a simple communication, in writing, to the alleged offender is sufficient but sometimes you need to seek legal advice and take a more formal approach if it’s ignored.

Competition is different. It’s healthy to have competition and you would naturally expect it, unless your service or product is totally unique.

It’s always wise to see what your competition is up to. It keeps you on your toes and alerts you to anything where your competition might be crossing the boundaries which impacts on your own business.

Look at your competitors from time to time and carry out a competitor analysis. See what they are doing, how are they promoting themselves. Are they doing it in a good way? Can you learn anything from what they are doing? Do you notice what they are doing, that isn’t so great? Can you spot, bad grammar, loading errors and out of date information on your competitors’ websites and marketing collateral.

Compliment Can you treat it as a compliment? Everyone loves a compliment after all.

Yes, you may have spent hours, days, weeks building up a brand or idea and your competitor simply comes along, copies your ideas, your marketing and it looks so similar that people start commenting that you should do something about it.

However, quite often these cloned businesses fail. They haven’t thought about the detail, the financials, undergone the planning and often haven’t done the background work on the project or idea. At the outset, they think they can do it better. Some might, but the vast majority fail as they haven’t carried out the work required to get to that point.

Here’s where you can simply sit back and watch and take it as a compliment that they think your idea or concept is so great and original, that they want to do it too.

Sandra Garlick works with businesses owners from pre-start through to exit.  She is a business mentor and public speaker.  She regularly advises on business growth and strategy.

@SandraGarlick    @SGBusConsulting   @WomanWhoAwards