I opened my Facebook feed the other day and saw an image of a sculpture. Instantly I was taken aback as it was identical to one of my own unique pieces. Someone had copied my exact design, and was selling them on her website. I know the person quite well, and was shocked that she had done this.

Of course this has happened before. I’ve seen LinkedIn summaries virtually word for word the same as mine. The same with articles and even strategies I’ve created for clients.

So is copying a form of flattery or should we call the person out? And how can you protect yourself from people copying you?

Is it a compliment?
You’ve heard it before: ‘You should consider it a compliment when someone copies you’. I get this sentiment, but I don’t necessarily agree with it. Sure you can get inspiration, but I think it’s pretty rude to blatantly copy someone else’s idea or work.

Be the real deal
We all have experiences, expertise and passion that we have developed over the years that makes us original. I don’t think anyone can copy the heart and soul of your personal or business brand. For me, I’m constantly innovating and re-strategising; growing and expanding my ideas; and trying new things. No one can copy that.

Focus your energy on you
When I saw that image, the first thing I wanted to do was put a “please explain” comment on the Facebook post. But I held back because I wanted to be calm in my response. If they are a copycat, it will be pretty hard to appeal to their good nature! So pick your battles.

Protect yourself
Do everything you can to protect your ideas and work. If you are having a conversation with anyone about an idea or sensitive business information have them sign a Non-disclosure Agreement. Get trademarks and add copyright symbols to all of your work.

Don't do it yourself
If you are outsourcing any writing use Copyscape to check for online plagiarism before you publish (as you are responsible). Obtain permission to reproduce photographs and articles and clearly note the copyright owner.

There is so much content available to us now and with the social media “comparison” game this can lead to a compelling environment to take others work and ideas. Find muses and inspiration, but don’t copy.

Be original; be your amazing self.

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Catriona Pollard

From Unknown To Expert
CP Communications

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