Most artisans and professional crafts people deal with knock-offs of their products at some time. I heard about it all the time on the craft/artisan/handcrafted groups I am involved with.
I also dealt with it while I was a traveling sales rep. Most of the knock-offs I witnessed during this time were Asian copycats. I even had a few companies from different Asian areas wanting access to my wholesale website. Although they claimed to be ‘buyers’, I knew they were looking for ideas to knock-off!
Most of the time when I saw knock-offs in the marketplace, I reported them to the vendors I repped. From there, the original creators either sent them a letter from their lawyer or just ignored the copycats.
Now days, things are different with all the posting done on social media sites. Knock-offs are inevitable.
Wanting to share the best information on the subject, I searched a couple of my favorite sites and compiled this list of articles that address the issue and what they suggest:
Success is often followed by knockoffs, and unfortunately her designs have been blatantly copied by manufacturers in China who have no concern for copyrights. Her response has been to take the offenders to task on social media, exposing the theft and encouraging her fans to boycott any copycats. She is always moving forward with new designs as well.
How do I handle these sort of people? Is there a way to remain diplomatic, and at the same time get my point across that I don’t appreciate what they are doing? I’d hate to say something that would cause hard feelings between myself and another vendor who I’ll eventually see at another local show.
Furthermore, is it common to refuse a sale to a person who has knocked off your work before? I know I’d hate to be accused of stealing someone’s idea, but if the imitation was blatant, would that be rude?
After all is said and done, here’s what I’ve found to be helpful when dealing with competition, copycats and knock-offs:
1.) Before trying to get all Zen about it, spend 20 minutes screaming into your pillow. It will help you move past the anger and frustration faster.
2.) Seek to understand and assume positive intent. This can be applied to so much in life. As hard as it may be, give the benefit of the doubt and assume the similarities were not intentional.
3.) Believe in abundance. There is enough to go around. The universe offers ample opportunity for all of us to succeed. Talk yourself out of scarcity and into abundance.
4.) On the flip side, no one ever won by being a second-rate version of someone else. This is where strong brand identity comes into play.
5.) And then — there’s karma.
More tips for dealing with copycats:
- Apply for a patent, copyright or trademark.
- Safeguard your product ingredients.
- When someone knocks off your product, send a letter asking them to stop, and keep a record of it for any possible legal action.For the same reason, document any instances when buyers confuse the knockoff with your product to make the case that they would not have bought it if they didn’t think it was yours.
Here is my list for copycat communication:
• Compare and evaluate the copycat version to your work.
• Document where they may have seen your original work.
• Write a private, non-threatening letter to the copycat.
• Follow Rachel Fischbein’s recommendations for a structure of this letter.
• Discuss the situation with the copycat.
• Do all this direct communication before going public on social media.