Are You One in a Million?
Do you know the feeling that you are making progress creating your business. Or maybe you have started to grab attention and your new concept is starting to pay off. It is really an amazing feeling. You've put in the work, done the research and launched your business in a way that works for you. You're staying in your lane and expect everyone else will do the same. A little bit of competition isn't a problem, in fact it is healthy. But what do you do when the competition starts to steal your ideas, your marketing, your concepts, your entire business?
For example, a local gym is stealing the marketing of all the other local gyms in the area. It is a word for word copy of the ads, programs and ideas of the other facilities. Clients recognize this, staff recognizes this, and the public realizes it is happening, which is a good indication it isn't working for the copycat facility. This is not unique to the area and most certainly not to the fitness industry, but it is frustrating none the less. So what do you do about it? Well the first step is to calm down. How do I know this is necessary. Mainly because I know you're human and most initial reactions would be to get angry. It's natural. When you're calm it's time to take a measured approach to the problem.
Step 1. Try to get as much information as you can on the competition. Who are they and why are they stealing your stuff. Are they failing and grasping at whatever they can to keep afloat, are they not sure how to handle competition. Are they lame and lazy and don't want to work. You have to understand their motivation to know how to proceed.
Step 2. After you've figured out their motivation, create your action plan. It could be that you do nothing. Shocking I know, but if their copying you does you no harm, then take it as a compliment and keep following your plan. If they are taking your business and hurting your financially, it may be necessary to speak to an attorney about options.
Step 3. Figure out exactly what they are taking. Are they stealing marketing that you paid for or is copyrighted by someone else? If this is the case, then you have to contact that company and let them know. They will likely shut them down because they did not pay for the rights to use that material. If it is your idea, you can send a cease and desist letter that puts them on notice that they are using your material and you know it. Warn them if they do not stop, that you intend to take further action. This only works if the person cares about their business, if they do not, it will likely not be a strong deterrent.
Step 4. Determine if any of the material falls under categories that can be copyrighted or trademarked. If so, consult with counsel to take those steps. If it does not, then it is necessary to make the public understand that you are the one creating the material and make that part of your campaign....often imitated, never duplicated, etc. This puts not only the competition, but the world on notice that this is your stuff.
Step 5. Keep being fabulous. Copying is the finest form of flattery you can ever receive. People wouldn't want to steal your stuff if they didn't want to be you. Do whatever you can do to keep the material as close as possible to your brand. Add things here and there that are unique to you so that if they steal it, they will seem really foolish. An image, tag or thing that is all you.
Step 6. Understand that there may not be much more you can do. The information falls into the public domain which makes it susceptible to copying. That doesn't mean that you do nothing, simply don't expect a magic bullet that will stop them.
If all else fails, ignore them. You don't want to feed the beast and have them take pleasure in the fact you've given them a second thought.
If you need copyright, trademark or cease and desist assistance, call Ingram Law Firm today.