Knowledge Pantry

April 24, 2013

Up For Debate – What To Do If Someone Copies Your Work?

Up_For_DebateThey say that imitation is the best form of flattery but when someone comes along and not only copies your product and your packaging but also, as I’ve been hearing more and more, even the very photos you post of your products and sometimes your product descriptions word for word too, it’s stealing pure and simple.  But what are you, with a limited budget to put towards legal fees, supposed to do when faced with this?

This question was asked of me twice in the same day last week from two people on opposite coasts and I’d love to open it up to you for more discussion.  It’s a real problem and I don’t have a great answer.  Do you have any recommendations on how to deal with this?  Have you faced this in the past (or perhaps, sadly, are facing it now) and what have you done that’s worked or not worked?  Does the copying even matter or should you let it go completely?

*I hope this goes without saying that Small Food Business does not support or condone the copying or stealing of anyone else’s work. 

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3 comments on “Up For Debate – What To Do If Someone Copies Your Work?

  • kerriannhandmade on said:

    I’m not aware of anyone copying my work, however, I did find someone posting my product in a forum and asking people how to hack the pattern. Then another person posting in forum said that they were going to make my item and sell at local craft shows for half the price. Not sure if either followed through. I messages each of them privately explaining how hard I worked to develop my product and this is my livelyhood, if they didn’t back down and remove photos I would pursue legal action.

    • smallfoodbiz on said:

      Thanks for sharing. The experience you had is similar to what I’m hearing from other entrepreneurs (of both food and craft projects) in that people are seeing one thing online and then trying to take that same idea and sell it elsewhere.

  • James Shanley on said:

    Getting knocked off is a sad reality in business. One can spend a lot of mental and emotional energy worrying about it, and a very lot of money trying to actually do anything about it. A stern letter from an attorney will scare of most, but even that will cost good money.

    For a small business, my advice is to keep focused on producing the highest quality you can and making sure the consumer can tell the difference between the real thing (yours) and the knock off. Let’s face it, people do knock offs because they are to lazy to come up with their own design/product, and that laziness will spill over into every other aspect of their product.

    We were knocked off repeatedly in the early days of our business, and all of them fell by the wayside. It hurts to get ripped off, but hang tough.