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bfroberts

When someone copies your design

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I was just wondering, in the event that someone copies your product label design, what would you do?  Their design is subtly different, but from a distance, the label looks exactly the same.  What would be the best course of action?  To change my design?  That is what I am inclined to do, which is frustrating, because I went to great lengths to create a design that was original and recognizable.  The other company is much larger and has a much larger customer base.  I am heartsick about this.

Edited by bfroberts
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You will never outpace copycats. Even if you trademark your work, any tiny variation makes it difficult to defend. 

 

Keep doing what you do, tweaking as needed to eventually distance yourself from the imitator. 

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It's unfortunate that in the creativity part of business that someone cannot be creative enough to develop their own labels/style. Any slight change, unless your trademark addresses it, isn't enough to get them on TM laws. We've had various issues in the past that we turned that into a challenge as to how could make something better or more unique and still resemble us. They say having your work copied is a compliment even though it's a headache. So how can you alter your product label design and presentation just enough to make it better? Or how can you compete against the copycats? 

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I knew a TM wouldn't be worth the time and expense since a subtle change is all it takes.  I'm big on brand recognition and it was my goal to create something that would be instantly recognizable as my brand, and set it apart from all the others.  It just feels like all that hard work was for nothing.  I just had the logo reworked last year, and it's already copied.  
Thank you for telling me what I already knew.  There's nothing I can do.  Thankfully, today feels slightly less bleak.   

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53 minutes ago, bfroberts said:

I knew a TM wouldn't be worth the time and expense since a subtle change is all it takes.  I'm big on brand recognition and it was my goal to create something that would be instantly recognizable as my brand, and set it apart from all the others.  It just feels like all that hard work was for nothing.  I just had the logo reworked last year, and it's already copied.  
Thank you for telling me what I already knew.  There's nothing I can do.  Thankfully, today feels slightly less bleak.   

 

Do you have any links to your branding/products? Im curious at this point. Ive spent near 2 years working on my branding and to have someone mimic it would be heart breaking. Im not sure I would take it as lightly as you are :( 

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23 hours ago, Clear Black said:

 

Do you have any links to your branding/products? Im curious at this point. Ive spent near 2 years working on my branding and to have someone mimic it would be heart breaking. Im not sure I would take it as lightly as you are :( 

I saw the copycat label at a local print shop, not on the actual product. I just know they've ordered a run of labels, and I know what they look like.  The print shop knows I am displeased, but I don't think they care.  They'll run anything for anyone as long as they pay.  If they run this order, and this label actually makes it onto my competitor's product, I will cut ties with the print shop entirely.  I am already making plans to do that.

My situation is a little unique, in that I'm not just a candle shop. We have a lodging business, and we have a store onsite.  My product brand is the same as our business logo, to tie all of our products together.  For example, it would be kind of like the orchard account Trap has to make store brand candles for the orchard.  Meaning, the orchard isn't a candle company, but if you see their branded candles, you know where they came from.  If I showed the label, the world would know what our main business is, and I learned a long time ago not to put that info on the web in forums, because people can do nasty things with that info. 
The copy cat label is using my background image, just changing it to full color, they added a tiny squirrel, and changed the name from "XXX Candle Company" to "YYY Candles".  It is basically a mountain scene, with three component images that are specific to our area.  Those three things have never been put on a label together for any kind of logo or product in this area.  It was a unique idea to combine those three components, and the chance that someone would come up with that idea on their own and have it drawn exactly like mine is impossible.  Its the exact same image + a squirrel and a little more color.

I am a variety/souvenir store with a lot of product, but only a tiny part of that is candles.  The other company is a much larger company.  They will purchase far more labels and sell far more candles than I ever will.  They have enough purchasing power to make my account irrelevant.  You'd think they could come up with their own damn design.  However, this isn't the first time they have poached ideas from me.  This is a cut throat area to do business in.

 

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47 minutes ago, bfroberts said:

I saw the copycat label at a local print shop, not on the actual product. I just know they've ordered a run of labels, and I know what they look like.  The print shop knows I am displeased, but I don't think they care.  They'll run anything for anyone as long as they pay.  If they run this order, and this label actually makes it onto my competitor's product, I will cut ties with the print shop entirely.  I am already making plans to do that.

My situation is a little unique, in that I'm not just a candle shop. We have a lodging business, and we have a store onsite.  My product brand is the same as our business logo, to tie all of our products together.  For example, it would be kind of like the orchard account Trap has to make store brand candles for the orchard.  Meaning, the orchard isn't a candle company, but if you see their branded candles, you know where they came from.  If I showed the label, the world would know what our main business is, and I learned a long time ago not to put that info on the web in forums, because people can do nasty things with that info. 
The copy cat label is using my background image, just changing it to full color, they added a tiny squirrel, and changed the name from "XXX Candle Company" to "YYY Candles".  It is basically a mountain scene, with three component images that are specific to our area.  Those three things have never been put on a label together for any kind of logo or product in this area.  It was a unique idea to combine those three components, and the chance that someone would come up with that idea on their own and have it drawn exactly like mine is impossible.  Its the exact same image + a squirrel and a little more color.

I am a variety/souvenir store with a lot of product, but only a tiny part of that is candles.  The other company is a much larger company.  They will purchase far more labels and sell far more candles than I ever will.  They have enough purchasing power to make my account irrelevant.  You'd think they could come up with their own damn design.  However, this isn't the first time they have poached ideas from me.  This is a cut throat area to do business in.

 

 

God dang thats a crappy spot to be in. If that print shop has no issues running an order for another company that has blatantly infringed on another products idea, whether trademarked or not, then I would also have no issues cutting ties with them. No issues at all.

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2 hours ago, bfroberts said:

I saw the copycat label at a local print shop, not on the actual product. I just know they've ordered a run of labels, and I know what they look like.  The print shop knows I am displeased, but I don't think they care.  They'll run anything for anyone as long as they pay.  If they run this order, and this label actually makes it onto my competitor's product, I will cut ties with the print shop entirely.  I am already making plans to do that.

My situation is a little unique, in that I'm not just a candle shop. We have a lodging business, and we have a store onsite.  My product brand is the same as our business logo, to tie all of our products together.  For example, it would be kind of like the orchard account Trap has to make store brand candles for the orchard.  Meaning, the orchard isn't a candle company, but if you see their branded candles, you know where they came from.  If I showed the label, the world would know what our main business is, and I learned a long time ago not to put that info on the web in forums, because people can do nasty things with that info. 
The copy cat label is using my background image, just changing it to full color, they added a tiny squirrel, and changed the name from "XXX Candle Company" to "YYY Candles".  It is basically a mountain scene, with three component images that are specific to our area.  Those three things have never been put on a label together for any kind of logo or product in this area.  It was a unique idea to combine those three components, and the chance that someone would come up with that idea on their own and have it drawn exactly like mine is impossible.  Its the exact same image + a squirrel and a little more color.

I am a variety/souvenir store with a lot of product, but only a tiny part of that is candles.  The other company is a much larger company.  They will purchase far more labels and sell far more candles than I ever will.  They have enough purchasing power to make my account irrelevant.  You'd think they could come up with their own damn design.  However, this isn't the first time they have poached ideas from me.  This is a cut throat area to do business in.

 

Over the years, I've had a of couple 'copiers'. Not to the extent of yours, but still, a local 'friend' copying my candles, and someone copying my fundraiser model with party*ite. Nothing really I could do about it(except ditch the 'friend'), but neither lasted anyway.

 

Is it your original artwork they copied/altered?

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I'm so sorry for you BF :(......That's disgusting totally.....

 

Trappeur

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@bfroberts, if you have already invested in your logo and you want this as your logo, I think you should go ahead and claim it as your own, quickly.  I think that is what I would do ... I'd get it "out there" somehow, especially published, either on a website, newspaper ad, phone book, etc. so it's documented that this was yours to begin with.  That way, if they should come around trying to say that you have stolen their logo, you have published proof that it was yours first.  I'd plaster that logo over everything I had ... sign, cards, flyers, promotional advertising, etc., essentially claiming it as your own.  On the other hand, if you are no longer happy with it because it's been copied, then I guess you would have no choice but to design something else.

 

 

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Sorry, it's horrible to see that but on the other hand it is a compliment to your work.  Like everyone said, you'll never keep up and I agree with Birdcharm as well, just protect yourself from them coming against you. 

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Can you easily prove first use? It may be worth trademarking just to have leverage to issue a cease and desist. It may be close enough to prove they are trying to deceive your customers, and could be enforceable. 

 

Once trademarked you could go to the print shop to legally get them to stop producing your work fraudulently for the other. 

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19 hours ago, Lighten Up said:

Over the years, I've had a of couple 'copiers'. Not to the extent of yours, but still, a local 'friend' copying my candles, and someone copying my fundraiser model with party*ite. Nothing really I could do about it(except ditch the 'friend'), but neither lasted anyway.

 

Is it your original artwork they copied/altered?

My artwork was created by a graphics company in another state.  The salesman is a good customer of ours.  His graphics company designed my artwork and they hold the rights to it, not me.  My graphics company didn't do the artwork for the other company.  I assume this other artist just poached it from the web and tweaked it.

 

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Another issue is they could turn this around on you and claim you copied them. I have seen it done before even thou the original artwork was designed years ago compared to the copykat's work. They still claimed it was theirs and took it to court. It was really hard on the owner of the original artwork to prove it was theirs. Its not as easy as you think. These people went through hell and back trying to protect their own branding and logo they worked hard on and used for years.

 

This is another reason you may want to give some more thought to copyrighting your logo so you won't get sued for using your own work.

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21 hours ago, Candybee said:

Another issue is they could turn this around on you and claim you copied them. I have seen it done before even thou the original artwork was designed years ago compared to the copykat's work. They still claimed it was theirs and took it to court. It was really hard on the owner of the original artwork to prove it was theirs. Its not as easy as you think. These people went through hell and back trying to protect their own branding and logo they worked hard on and used for years.

 

This is another reason you may want to give some more thought to copyrighting your logo so you won't get sued for using your own work.

 

Or contact the original team that did the graphics design and fill them in on the situation. They may have contingencies in place already for this exact problem. Even if they dont, they could be a source of confirmation that the original artwork was consigned by you and not the imposters. 

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It seems that the graphics company who designed your artwork is your ace in the hole.  By all means I would be contacting them and finding out the legalities of this whole thing BF.  And also speak to the salesman who you said is your good customer.

And as Clear Black said, I most definitely would be marching my little hiney down to that print shop who you have been using forever and tell them of this situation and speak to the Owner/manager and tell them the situation and I wouldn;t be hesitant about that at all.  Hell, they didn't give 2 rats a....ss about printing your design to someone else so why should you feel indifferent?  I'd be taking my business elsewhere to print.  I'll bet you could find someone a lot cheaper too.  I guess you really have to go about this all legal beagel but in the meantime, I certainly would be showing my butt and mouth off.....Now that's me.  Good luck!

 

So let's see what it looks like....!  Can you post a picture?  I'm sure it's fantastic being that someone is copying it!

(lol, just kidding here about the picture).....

 

Trappeur

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I saw a competitor to mine who also does beer bottle candles have one of his employees leave his company and start his own, making pretty much the exact same product, same label style, same cut same packaging same trade show booth set up it's sickening. It is super hard to go after someone, because as long as the design is 10% different or so then it's considered not a copy

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One thing to consider... if their candles take off, you could turn the tables on them and change your candle labels to look like theirs. Just put a nut in the squirrel's hands, or something minor like that. See how they like it.

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