They say imitation is the highest form of flattery—but not in the world of business. In most cases, it is a good thing to have healthy competition among entrepreneurs. It encourages innovation and building a strong loyalty base of customers. When competitors start using each others ideas and brands, issues can be created in the marketplace.
Being proactive in cases like this is important as it can have a large impact on the future of your business. Below are some things you can do to protect yourself from the threats of copycats.
- Upfront Confrontation
When you notice that someone is trying to copy you, you may choose to deal with them directly instead of getting legal counsel involved. While this can be a way to save some money, you should consider consulting with legal counsel before initiating that meeting to ensure that you are not missing something important. It is often less expensive to reach out to your lawyer at the beginning of a potential issue for advice than it is to have them fix issues midway through a matter or after it has blown up into something bigger.
Talking to your legal counsel does not mean that you can't have a friendly conversation with the other party. In some cases issues are cleared up through a simple phone call.
- Legal Protection
Having legal protections can make it easier for you to deal with potential copycats. Patents can be used to protect innovated products, methods and systems, a patent agent can assist with creating a plan to protect your innovations. Non-disclosure agreements, supplier agreements, manufacturing agreements, and employment agreements can also be invaluable in protecting your intellectual property as they set out specific requirements for the parties involved.
Trademark registrations can be used to protect your brand and prevent others from using similar trademarks in a confusing matter. This can be important, particularly as it relates to customer loyalty and expansion of a customer base.
- Brand Loyalty
Potential copycat issues tend to become less of a problem if you have been able to build strong brand loyalty among your long-time customers. If they have already experienced quality products and services from you, your customers are less likely abandon you if they find a cheaper option from a copycat. Engaging with customers, considering their feedback, focusing on your strengths as a brand, and making sure you stay consistent are all important elements of creating brand loyalty and maintaining your customer base.
Copycats can be minor nuisances or big problems. Having appropriate intellectual property protections in place can make it easier to deal with copycats and put your business in a better position should legal action be required.
If you are looking for assistance in dealing with copycats or protecting your intellectual property, we can help. To learn more, call (587) 400-8063 or book a consultation today.