Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Handmade Copycats: What To Do When Someone Accuses YOU Of Copying




There aren't any original ideas any more. 

We're all just re-cycling anyway. 

We just keep re-inventing history.

While most of the handmade community would have heard and even repeated some form of the above sayings, it doesn't stop someone from accusing others of "violating" "infringing" "stealing" their creation.

All strong scary words, especially when you are confronted with them in an email!

So if you are the recipient of such a message, demanding you to stop immediately, what do you do?

[Disclaimer: I provide the following steps in the belief that you did not copy as accused. If you did, do the right thing.]


1. Initial Response. Reply to the message with a polite, professional, "Thank you for your message, I shall investigate further and get back to you."

2. Time to investigate. Be logical. Remove emotions. Buy the product you have been accused of copying and start to compare. Remember what may look the same just from photographs online might be a different story in real life. Be critical (but honest) and note everything about each item.

3. Time to be a detective. Now it's time to be an online sleuth. When does your creation appear in the public arena? If it is a new product, what's your timeline? How long were you developing it for? When was the accusers' in the public arena? Can you see a progression of development in their online profile? 

4. Assessment.  What do you think? If the shoe was on the other foot would you be crying foul? Or, are your creations so gosh darn different that only a blind person couldn't see it? 

Now, here is the hard part. Because, if the accuser has more money than sense then you might actually end up in a legal battle BUT just because that might happen don't be bullied or pushed into removing your creation if you are not a copycat. 

5. Reply with your findings. Be polite. Be professional. Thank them for their contact and let them know how your creations differ. Advise them with as much or as little detail as you wish. Don't feel you have to give them everything now especially if you feel that this won't be the end of it.

If at any time you feel that you might be engaged in a legal battle, do go and seek legal advice. The proceeding steps are the things I would do immediately after being accused of copying before deciding my next course of action.

Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself and your product if you are innocent of any infringement.

Be classy, do not make any public announcements on social media or other outlets until you have resolved the issue (and even then I wouldn't bother).

My tips for when things get nasty:
Social media as it is, is very VERY easy for people to start a campaign and sometimes it doesn't need any concrete evidence to do so. Do not feed the fires. If the other business has started a campaign against you respond to all comments that you are communicating with the concerned party and are unable to comment on this legal matter. If you are contacted by people who are not actually involved, be professional, respond with "I am unable to comment on this confidential legal matter."

More articles on Copycats:

The Zen of Handmade Copycats


1 comment:

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