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Copycat Business Discovered - Any Options?

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OverByte

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A few months ago I started an e-commerce business and it has steadily been growing in sales. I knew it would only be a matter of time before someone tried to sell a similar product (I'm selling a customized product), however I didn't expect someone to also steal my website and advertising copy.

I'm wondering if I have any options here. I would definitely say this business is copying mine (not just inspired by it). It seems relatively new and honestly I'm all for the free market and if they want to compete with a similar product, however I don't appreciate them stealing verbatim copy, for images, they used their own images but copied alot about my site, for instance the backgrounds of the images, the way they are laid out, etc.

From what I understand shopify may actually take action against websites that do this and I was considering contacting them. Before doing this I was considering contacting the offending business and asking them to remove verbatim copy from their website (I'm not sure what options I have for the images and massive similarity to the aesthetic - including the copy on the facebook page).

I was wondering from other experienced members how they would approach this situation:

- would you contact the offending store or monitor them without them knowing you know that they are copying you?
- would you contact shopify / facebook / instagram?
- any other options I haven't considered?

Thank you for helping me through the ugly side of business. It's frustrating to me the laziness of other "entrepreneurs" and the ease at which copying takes place. It took me several iterations (while spending budget and getting visitors) to tweak my copy and the look of the website as well as the product. If someone can just copy it they bypass all my work and expense.
 

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Kid

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First try Cease and Desist letter.
steal my website and advertising copy.
Those things are copyrighted - pictures and text.
So you would have a stand in court.
Make some archives of their pages and ads.

Yet, best would be to scare them off so much that they will move elsewhere,
b/c courts are expensive.
(I don't know if copyright can be used in small claims court (for what it is look up Small claims court - Wikipedia), but might be worth a try)

FB and other advertisers might have something like copyright based requests for removal.
Find forms/contacts and send them your case.
 

MoreVolume

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I’ve had a lot of competitors blatantly steal my ideas. Slogans, advertising ideas. All you can do is be flattered and work to differentiate yourself. If your product is making waves, someone is going to copy you. That’s just what it is unfortunately

Beat them to the punch. Find different ways to advertise. Work to get more eyes focused on your product
You have to fight by innovating
 

MrTrash757

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First try Cease and Desist letter.

Those things are copyrighted - pictures and text.
So you would have a stand in court.
Make some archives of their pages and ads.

Yet, best would be to scare them off so much that they will move elsewhere,
b/c courts are expensive.
(I don't know if copyright can be used in small claims court (for what it is look up Small claims court - Wikipedia), but might be worth a try)

FB and other advertisers might have something like copyright based requests for removal.
Find forms/contacts and send them your case.
I'm curious also, are they copying your product? Does it have a Patent on it?

I’ve had a lot of competitors blatantly steal my ideas. Slogans, advertising ideas. All you can do is be flattered and work to differentiate yourself. If your product is making waves, someone is going to copy you. That’s just what it is unfortunately

Beat them to the punch. Find different ways to advertise. Work to get more eyes focused on your product
You have to fight by innovating
Yep, this is something the indie makers face all the time. Someone in the US/West makes a product, then someone in Asia rips it off word for word.

They then have to innovate.
 

Vigilante

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A few months ago I started an e-commerce business and it has steadily been growing in sales. I knew it would only be a matter of time before someone tried to sell a similar product (I'm selling a customized product), however I didn't expect someone to also steal my website and advertising copy.

I'm wondering if I have any options here. I would definitely say this business is copying mine (not just inspired by it). It seems relatively new and honestly I'm all for the free market and if they want to compete with a similar product, however I don't appreciate them stealing verbatim copy, for images, they used their own images but copied alot about my site, for instance the backgrounds of the images, the way they are laid out, etc.

From what I understand shopify may actually take action against websites that do this and I was considering contacting them. Before doing this I was considering contacting the offending business and asking them to remove verbatim copy from their website (I'm not sure what options I have for the images and massive similarity to the aesthetic - including the copy on the facebook page).

I was wondering from other experienced members how they would approach this situation:

- would you contact the offending store or monitor them without them knowing you know that they are copying you?
- would you contact shopify / facebook / instagram?
- any other options I haven't considered?

Thank you for helping me through the ugly side of business. It's frustrating to me the laziness of other "entrepreneurs" and the ease at which copying takes place. It took me several iterations (while spending budget and getting visitors) to tweak my copy and the look of the website as well as the product. If someone can just copy it they bypass all my work and expense.
Same thing happened to @JasonR years ago
 

csalvato

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Your only viable option is to out-execute them. You need to innovate, differentiate and build loyalty. That’s the only way to win.

Copycats aren’t really a huge threat because they aren’t innovators. This mostly serves to test you and see how distracted they can make you.

The more distracted you get, the more they’ve won.
 

eliquid

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I have been ripped off and stolen from copycats for many years now.

Take it from me and just know that anything you do to take them down is just going to cost you time and money. Do you have lots of time and money?

If you do have lots of time and money, consider this flip side idea...

Spend that time and money INSTEAD on making your product or service better and building a moat around it.

One idea prevents someone from going forward, which may backfire on you.

The other improves your product and potentially creates money for you.

If I was making bets, I would say spending time and money on your product will get you further down the road.

Also, what are you going to do when the next 5 people copycat you... are you going to spend 5x the time and money stopping them too? Because trust me, that shit is coming for you real soon.

.
 

biophase

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I've had people copy my websites, logos and text also. Just know this, anyone that starts out copying a website word for word is not a very intelligent person to start with. All my competitors eventually went away in a few years. They just give up. Remember that having a website with stuff to sell is the easiest part of ecommerce. It's the traffic part that is hard and they can't copy you there.

In fact, one of my copycats them tried to sell their business on Flippa about 9 years later. They had a whopping $47k of sales in 9 years and I was making that in a week.

FD788B82-E466-4A7B-881E-205CE6A9D04E.jpeg
 
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OverByte

OverByte

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Thanks everyone for taking the time to respond. The advice to focus on continued execution instead of these losers is sound and is my plan. As @biophase mentioned, someone who is going to duplicate instead of being creative is lazy and ultimately not a threat. I decided to just move on and not focus on them as it wasn't worth my time, it's frustrating but trying to beat off competitors instead of focusing on my goals just puts me further behind.

BUT... yesterday I did feel it was worth approximately 30 min of my time to google reporting copyright infringement on Shopify (since that is where they were hosted). Turns out they have a very easy to use intake form for DMCA violation reporting. I submitted that yesterday pointing to my original works and the copycat webpages (they even copied my page names...) and decided to just not think about it anymore.

I received an email today less than 24 hours later indicating Shopify agreed they were in violation of DMCA, that Shopify has a 0 tolerance policy for this and that all offending content was removed. I went to their product page which now 404s.

All in all, everyone's right and it's not worth the time. But for what it's worth, seems like some platforms are taking a stance against blatant infringement.

Now back to executing...
 

Vigilante

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Thanks everyone for taking the time to respond. The advice to focus on continued execution instead of these losers is sound and is my plan. As @biophase mentioned, someone who is going to duplicate instead of being creative is lazy and ultimately not a threat. I decided to just move on and not focus on them as it wasn't worth my time, it's frustrating but trying to beat off competitors instead of focusing on my goals just puts me further behind.

BUT... yesterday I did feel it was worth approximately 30 min of my time to google reporting copyright infringement on Shopify (since that is where they were hosted). Turns out they have a very easy to use intake form for DMCA violation reporting. I submitted that yesterday pointing to my original works and the copycat webpages (they even copied my page names...) and decided to just not think about it anymore.

I received an email today less than 24 hours later indicating Shopify agreed they were in violation of DMCA, that Shopify has a 0 tolerance policy for this and that all offending content was removed. I went to their product page which now 404s.

All in all, everyone's right and it's not worth the time. But for what it's worth, seems like some platforms are taking a stance against blatant infringement.

Now back to executing...
Great information
 

Vigilante

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I had a high flying business once, that SUCKED. After winning a $50,000(?) prize package from iHeartMedia, I launched the business and it spiraled into a miserable death. Meanwhile, dozens of copycats all across the country copied the tremendously visible business.

My only solace was seeing all of the copycats meet a slow, miserable painful death, one at a time.

Here was one of our iHeartRadio commercials
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-u7kjp3RJ4
 

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Vigilante

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