Continuing the discussion from Intellectual Copyright?:
Oh I’m not very good at this forum thing! Not sure if I’ve done it right.
Anyway, I have a problem as someone has been copying my designs, blatently, and is now selling similar items in a local shop where i was stcocking up till a few weeks ago. I knew she had started copying my designs and making them as she actually told me! I do not have any copyright or registered design rights. My products are based on a traditional idea but adapted in a few ways that I have been developing and selling for over 5 years. (please see my shop).
I don’t really know what to do as i feel she has really crossed the line now. The products are poorer quality than mine and do not use my logo but are obvious (attempts at) copies.
I am not happy with the shop or the person making them.
I’m not sure where you’d stand as you say your own designs are based on a traditional idea. I guess it would depend how blatant they are and how individual your adaptations are.
The next step would be getting legal advice, from someone who specialises in copyright and design and seeing if they feel there is a case to answer, and if there is, a first step would be a cease and desist letter from the solicitor to the other party.
Thanks. Well as far as a legal point of view goes. I think I read somewhere that if you change a design in 3 ways it is ok. i had not seen any of these since the 70’s and I used different materials, a different pattern and other adaptations. The copies in questions are blatantly copies. The person repeated pestered me, asking for the pattern, when i did stalls selling them. As far as I know no pattern is available. She also told me afterwards that she was making them but I thought (hoped) that she would not impinge on my market. Moving into a shop as soon as I have stopped supplying it, and still in negotiation with that shop is just bare faced cheek, in a small town like Hebden Bridge.
I thought of a cease and desist letter, I dont know if i need a solicitor for this. But really, this is a Fair Trade shop in a small town, what are they playing at?
Hi - the law is a lot clear than people seem to think. I have had experience of a couple of these cases and am lucky enough to know an IP specialist.
Changing a design in a certain number of ways does NOT make it a new design. If when you compare the two designs side by side there is a marked similarity to your pattern or design, then that is strong enough for you to take legal action. Design copyright is yours automatically if you can prove you have been making said items for a period of time.
You need to get advice from an IP specialist and in the first instance I would certainly send a cease and desist letter, pointing out you have been making the items and you do not wish to create a licence for them to reproduce your designs.
You also need to inform the shop owner that they are also personally liable as you have (presumably) put them on warning that those designs are copied. Design infringement now carries a prison penalty. If the shopkeeper continues to stock the copied items, they leave themselves open to prosecution and in addition, it’s a foolish shop owner who wants to get a reputation for allowing his suppliers’ goods to be ripped off. It could be the end of their business. I would ask the shop keeper to return the items to you and you can then destroy them. That’s standard practice.
Cases can be grey, for sure, but once someone has been put on warning they are copying someone else’s designs, they are on very shaky ground unless they can prove they have been making them or the design has been around for a number of years. The key point is can you prove your adaptation is unique to you and not widely available. If you can, then you need to tell them and send them the cease and desist letter. If they then choose to ignore you, you should then take some legal advice/ further action.
Hope it works out okay for you.
I don’t think the “change it 3 times” stands to be honest - I’ve read different versions of it with different numbers of changes. This site (https://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/copyright_myths) says each case would be considered on it’s merits.
I completely agree it’s bare faced cheek, and must be really horrible to experience, but only a legal bod can see if there is a case to answer and go from there. Is it worth talking to the shop and explaining that although business is business you feel undermined that they are supplying similar/identical goods to yours whilst still in negotiation with you? You could point out your good reputation and quality etc as a positive in your favour, and ask why they’ve pre-empted negotiating in this way. Good luck.
Unfortunately, designs cannot be copyrighted or trademarked unless they contain a character. If it is picture or words it may be copyrighted or trademarked depending on what it is. A design may be patented but as a rule, not for clothes or fashion accessories or even jewellery.
It is good to speak to an IP lawyer but DO NOT send a take down notice of any time until you are clear what you are doing. There are quite serious ramifications if you send out a DMCA without rightful cause.
Don’t take the advice on legal issues by people in a public fora. You need to consult a legal specialist.
Maybe covered under design rights @ManiacalMosaics?
In which case this link may be if use. But yes, see a legal expert.
I have missed this, yes Liz. I have only ever practised law in Canada and yes, exclusively in the UK, there are such a thing as design rights. I don’t know the quality of the resource you have quoted and I long ago learned be entertained but not governed by what is written in public! Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I love to learn things I don’t know!
Thank you so much for your advice. I only found this out today and it is only 3 weeks when I was last in the shop, when they said they needed a week or 2 to think about it (I was not happy with their change of commission, which had resulted in me being under paid so I was trying to negotiate a deal that suited all round).
I will look into everything that’s been suggested and not do anything hasty. Although this is a small town, and a few of my friends know already, it was a friend who noticed it in facebook. So maybe I won’t have to do anything else. I have found another stockist. And hopefully my folksy sales will pick up once I get time to restock my own shop
I feel your pain Rosie; I have had the same thing happen to me with one particular shop where I had items on “sale-or-return”. They didn’t have any of a particular item type at all, so I supplied some expecting decent sales, and within a couple of weeks the owner had made their own version and priced it slightly lower (of course they didn’t have to pay commission to themselves). They have now done this three times, but rather than the time and effort of arguing about it I simply do not supply that shop any more.
If you are selling hundreds then find a solicitor to fight it for you. Otherwise just find an honest shop or gallery and spend your time and energy creating lovely things to sell there.
Thankyou. I think you might be right. I’m glad I’ve taken some time to think about it. I have got my stuff in another shop now and they are lovely and they pay me! I was a bit concerned about customers getting confused because I’ve had things in the shop for a few years and they are known, and what they have been replaced with are frankly an inferior copy, which are actually priced higher. Hopefully it won’t matter too much. It’s a small town. I need to decided whether i say anything to the person who is copying my design if i see her.
That sounds terrible what happened to you. I had someone copy my work maybe 20 years ago and i just told myself it was the “sincerest form of flattery”, ie, they liked the design. Although of course theft of inellectual property is a serious crime and these people should be made aware of this.
Do you have any sort of label on your boots? Like one of those little fabric tags that get sewn into an outside seam or something, like big label designers do? That way you can show your branding on your items, and people can easily recognise it’s your brand, and know that if it hasn’t got the label on then it’s a copy. Might be worth looking into?
No I haven’t got Bamboots labels but I’me still considering it. I machine embroider my logo onto each sole before it’s made into shoes though. So they are easily distinguishable. I have posted a notice on my Facebook page.
Some of you might want to know which shop it is because they sell a lot of handmade work. It’s Spirals in Hebden Bridge. I helped them tidy up after the floods in 2012 , they one of the first shops to reopen. Some shops along there have evacuated today. I won’t be helping Spirals if it floods again. Or maybe I will.