“Let’s start this simply – what are business copycats?”
When you run a business, a huge amount of it is inspired by your own intellectual property. So your logo, the way you write, the way you take photographs – it’s all inherently you. You came up with your business name, your logo, and your ethos.
A business copycat is someone (or someones, if it’s a company) who… really can’t be bothered to do all that for themselves. Rather than coming up with something new and unique, they’ll just lift the appearance of a business – and even its underlying ethos, though rarely the entire business model – from another company.
“How Does This Work?”
Let’s say you run a small digital marketing business from home. You learned to code for yourself online and designed the website yourself; it’s red, green, and white, with a specific font. Then you grabbed yourself a logo from With Oomph; let’s say three little dots that are red, green and white – it’s got the same colour scheme as your website and the two blend together into one symbol of brand unity. Then you create a way of addressing your customers, such as beginning every blog post with: “hiya guys”. It’s not a huge amount, but it’s an overall picture that is inherently you. You choose a business name that’s got a lot of impact, so for this example, let’s say: Kapow!
Then one day, you stumble across a website. They sell tools for home DIYers… but as you browse through the site, it all begins to look suspiciously familiar. There’s the red, green, and white colour scheme. There’s the same use of “hiya guys” when addressing customers. They’ve even chosen a similar, short, impactful name: Boom!
“Maybe It’s A Coincidence?”
It would be nice if this is the case, but when the duplication is that on the nose, it’s unlikely to be a coincidence. Chances are, they have lifted their entire brand and identity directly from you.
“What Does It Matter If They Don’t Compete?”
Well – it’s up to you, but what you have created is your intellectual property. There’s also the chance customers might be confused, stumble on the imposter, and think your company has changed altogether.
Of course, it’s an even bigger problem if you’re in the same industry.
“What Can Be Done About It?”
Realistically, very little. Intellectual property is a difficult area of law. Even if – to the untrained eye – there’s obviously been direct copying going on, it’s hard to prove you own the rights to a particular colour scheme or way of address customers. You can contact them and ask for an explanation, but there’s no guarantee of a reply.
If they have stolen from you directly – such as lifting a section of text from your site or using your images – then you have a better chance. Send them an invoice for use of your content. When that’s ignored – as it most likely will be – then spread the word of their thievery on social media.