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TallTayl

Business Tip: be unique, then get busy protecting your work

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This week has been extremely challenging for me professionally. Occasionally I google my brand and product names to see where I fall in the searches. This week I found no fewer than 7 people using my brand names, tag lines and copy to sell their versions of my products on mainstream ecommerce sites. I waited too long to file the trademark paperwork, but I did. Until the trademark is finalized I can't do a darned thing about it. 

 

This morning as I sipped my coffee and scanned Facebook I choked as I saw my work being sold as someone else's. Someone made molds of three of the four dragon eggs  I created to sell as their own. I hand sculpted each of the masters. You can see some of my fingerprints in her photos. When confronted she accused me of copying Game of Thrones. I intentionally made them unique and completely different from anything seen on the show or elsewhere. Each has its own story and its own design. There is no crossover, and intentionally no ties to the show. In any event that does not matter, people are not permitted to cast molds of unique work under general copyright law. 

 

My piece of advice today: don't copy branding, names, scent names, tag lines, images, ideas or art. Be your own unique entity.

 

My second piece of advice: copyright and trademark your unique work to protect yourself. 

 

Cease and desist letters are periodically sent out by companies who watch for trademark infringement. Lush, Disney, Universal, sports teams, and many others scan through google, Amazon, etsy and individual sites looking for infringement on their licensed images, words and trademarks. Unless you can completely prove prior use, when issued a cease and desist letter you have little choice but to change the items they find infringeing on their established trademarks. Friends have had to entirely re-brand from scratch when they got a little too close to a movie theme owned by universal.

 

It is not worth having to rebrand your entire business because you chose to use someone else's intellectual capital and trademarked work. Be unique from the start. It's really not that hard.

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Did you point out to the user that the photos were yours and they had your fingerprints in them? Would like to see them try to prove otherwise!

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TT - I'm so sorry you're experiencing this! 

 

I'm also shocked when I see people copying or showing other's work as their own. There is a whole candle company that does this with Disney and I have no idea why they haven't been shut down - but it's sickening to me. How can you be proud of your work when it's not your own creation? 

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I guess imitation is the highest form of flattery, but it gets tiresome staying ahead of the copiers.

 

@jbradshaw Sooner or later the cease and desist letters come. When that happens you have to totally rebrand everything. So why not NOT use someone else's work to begin with?

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Sorry to hear this happened to you!!

 

It is unbelievable how people think they can pirate creative work and sell it - much less put it online for everyone to see.    I've heard people say "well I've seen it on Pinterest so it is OK to copy...WTF...to me it is the same as walking in a store and using a five finger discount.

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Ugh!  This is SO frustrating! I'm so sorry it's happening to you!  Crazy how someone copying YOU accused you of copying. Imitation is not flattering, it's aggravating!  We work so hard on branding ourselves and to have someone try to take that way is maddening.

 

I've been there, I don't know if you remember my big thing on here a few years back where someone ordered from me and copied and admitted to it and still didn't care.  She disappeared for awhile but is back and her shop still looks eerily like mine and is doing a lot of the same products.  But I can't do anything about it other than continue to being the awesome business owner that I am :) 

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So frustrating!  I'm a firm believer in Karma and eventually it will come back to haunt them.  Not many small businesses can afford to go through the trademark process and I guess that doesn't protect you either.  I saw on Etsy the other day that someone had named most of their candles after Movies or TV series, it actually popped up as one of those pop up ads, I must have googled the movie?? Not sure why I saw it but I'm thinking those names are proprietary or trademarked by the studios.

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5 hours ago, TallTayl said:

T

 

Cease and desist letters are periodically sent out by companies who watch for trademark infringement. Lush, Disney, Universal, sports teams, and many others scan through google, Amazon, etsy and individual sites looking for infringement on their licensed images, words and trademarks. Unless you can completely prove prior use, when issued a cease and desist letter you have little choice but to change the items they find infringeing on their established trademarks. Friends have had to entirely re-brand from scratch when they got a little too close to a movie theme owned by universal.

 

Just wanted to confirm this.  I used to work for several "Big Brands" and my work from home job was to be their watchdog pretty much.  I had to report all the ads or websites that I found for trademark infringement.  Most of what I found was Disney related, people think it's ok to use Mickey Mouse or whatever but it's not ok without licensing from Disney.

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TT this really sucks that YOU have to defend YOUR work as YOURS ! I agree with @SuzyK imitation is NOT a flattery, its very aggravating. Then the audasity to say you

copied someone else (rolling eyes) @kandlekrazy I see that too, candles etc named after movies - series or Disney characters. I don't understand how they get away 

with it. I see this on ETSY a lot ! It seems to me anyhow, that people who don't play by the rules are always coming up like a rose + making money. I think it empowers 

them to continue throwing caution to the wind. Just my opinion. 

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all we can control is how we react. I got mad enough to file new trademarks and am protecting the new brand(s) and flagship products.

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I'm so sorry this is happening to you!  I worked for an IP law firm for many years and its amazing what people will try to get away with.

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1 hour ago, gls said:

Sorry to hear this happened to you!!

 

It is unbelievable how people think they can pirate creative work and sell it - much less put it online for everyone to see.    I've heard people say "well I've seen it on Pinterest so it is OK to copy...WTF...to me it is the same as walking in a store and using a five finger discount.

I think it's OK to see something on pinterest and copy it for your own home, or even a gift, but NOT OK if you are going to try to make money off of it. 

 

The company I'm thinking of does candles that are inspired by the Disney parks and rides, they did rebrand semi-recently, but kept making the same scents. Their product photos are also sometimes taken at the parks, and given how aggressive Disney is, I'm shocked they are getting away with it. 

 

I personally can't imagine trademarking my stuff at this point in my business, but this does give me pause. 

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Time wasted on dealing with things like this really p*sses me off in addition to the time/work to develop your products and then have someone just copy it all. 

Goldie

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