Yes as the title indicates this post is a little bit of a rant combined with some constructive tips. Being a Career crafter I have gone through the last several years with many highs and many lows. And if you are also a career crafter you will know the unique anger and stress created when you suspect another business of taking your ideas. Now this subject is often moaned about on many social media sites. I have seen many businesses rant and rave on there pages and websites accusing people of thievery! This is not a new or unique problem and sadly i do not foresee it ever being an old problem.
With this blog post I intend to not only sympathise but tell you how I have gone on to manage with years of being ripped off by fellow crafters one way or another.
Get yourself a cup of tea, and possibly a box of tissues and read on with me.
Okay firstly there are any different variations of idea stealing, while some may breach copyright I am afraid some do not. And copyright law can be very hard to navigate or even enforce when you are a small time designer with no legal team behind you.
I am exactly one of those, any spare cash goes on glitter not solicitors!
|Easy recognisable Liana Marcel!|
Those who copy your designs almost detail by detail.
What google says-
Ok in this case then you do have rights as long as your design was originally yours and you can prove date of conception. It is however very hard to prove if you have not registered with a copyrighting company ( there are many online). And as artists you do actually have a legal right to protect your designs without having done so. I am no expert in this but there is a vast amount of information on What to do next online. Many businesses find contacting the copycat designers and threatening legal action in a polite mature manner often does the trick. But beware as many online businesses fake bravado on social network sites and this can come to a messy online war. Source advice online and templates on cease and desist letters to protect your design.
What i would do- In my case I am not one to approach and ask a small business to cease copying my exact design. I have a very unique style so it is easy identifiable as a knock off 'Liana Marcel'. Luckily the more unique I become the less I have the issue with exact copycats. So my tip after contact would be to revise your designs, create a unique process of manufacture that no one could guess or replicate. Your 'secret recipe' so to speak. If something is too hard to copy chances are it won't be. Most copycat businesses looks for simple easy to make items for maximum profit. Become a skilled crafter at your chosen medium. Talent is never copy-able.
Those who take your design and make adjustments
Again pretty much the same scenario above, your design is recognisable but has maybe been altered slightly or colours changed. Copyright law asks for a certain number of consistent features in an item for it to breach so it is worth getting your research on!
Those who take your idea and pretty much replicate
Ok so this one has a couple of scenarios. One being they take an idea behind your design and use that in there own way....Sadly this is not a copyright issue, and as long as they have interpreted the design in there own style its not anything you can legally do anything about. Many artists take inspiration from ideas online everyday. Heck we have all done it. The belief that no idea is ever a unique idea is a strong one and in this case you can do very little. I have seen many online wars raged between 2 businesses and you really need to evaluate what this does to your business reputation. My advice is DON'T!! Yes feel angry and mad, tell your closest friends, have a facebook sob (not on your business page, no names... no links). But do not engage in tit for tat battling where customers will most definitely get a bad impression of your business ethics.
The other part of this scenario is marketing thievery. When you think up a promotional idea or marketing tool only to see it being used by said business shortly after you launch it. This has to be the most teeth grinding thing for me. Marketing does not come naturally and when I take time to think up a promotion or idea it is hard work. These idea riders who take use of that are not only lazy but its bad business etiquette.
What to do?
Well swallow it down, dust off your saddle. Your brain thought up the first brilliant idea so use the anger to motivate even better ones. Success is a far better revenge on petty idea stealers than an outright war. Use each theft as a tool to get your ass onto bigger and better. Business will always encounter competition. The mark of a successful business is to push aside it all and carry on. Yes your human and its ok to feel so enraged you want to shut shop and give up! But take it from me...use that emotion to sit down and work out your next plan of action. Your next jaw dropping creation. Always aim higher and better. For one thing is true....if someone depends on stealing ideas to win then they will never truly succeed. They will meet there limits when all those who used to fuel the ideas become too good for them to copy. Become a master at your trade. An easily recognisable brand! Build unique methods, source your supplies and have so many trade secrets you will need a wheelbarrow to cart them round!
Those who repetitively do one or all of the above.
Well it sucks to be them truly. As they may be reaping the rewards of others ideas but deep down they know it. And that my friends is on there conscience not yours. And through time more people they do it too (and they will) will see them for what they are. Yes they may get to a reasonable level of success but they lack the skill to be phenomenal. Be true to your art.... ignore those who will try and take it from you. Use legal action when you can and if you cannot well then learn to outshine !
When you see true success stories they always tell you there are the copiers and the design thieves, its not new to anyone. But if you let it tear your business down then you let them win. Hold your head high feel complimented that your design was obviously so fabulous they tried to replicate. And replicate is exactly what it is, they won't have your skill or touch of magic. No copies are ever anywhere near as good as the originals. SO aim for high quality, high workmanship, skill and pride.
And if you find your items frequently are ripped off then evaluate your whole line, look at how to make it more YOU, more unique. Easy identifiable. As one good thing comes from true craft....followers and loyal fans. And quite often they are the ones who will fight your corner for you when they see a cheap knock off!