You toil relentlessly for years experimenting with your (entrepreneurial) ideas subjecting them to rigorous trial-and-error till you embrace the one that venture capitalists are willing to fund. You capitalise on that ground-breaking idea by building your start-up from scratch turning it into a conglomerate and by fulfilling all legal obligations for patenting your business idea. Then, one day, all hell breaks loose as you helplessly watch your envious competitors have stolen on a march on you by flooding the market with imitations.
The Copycat steps in…
You bitterly realise that imitators and copycats masquerading as your neck-and-neck competitors have captured your market share and minted millions by simply aping your trailblazing idea. In order to salvage your fast sinking enterprise and restoring its former glory, you start scouting for a patent litigator which further erodes your assets. ‘To be forearmed is to be forewarned’ is an axiom that is applicable not only in one’s personal life but in the business world as well.
As an innovating entrepreneur you’ve got to be sagacious enough to absorb that in the cut-throat world of commerce, copycats will always prey on ideas. Patenting your pioneering idea, registering it, and keeping an eye out for prowling impersonators will at least ensure that you don’t have to go out of business. Also, you’d be saving yourself from the embarrassment and agony of squandering millions of dollars in fighting a trademark violation lawsuit if you heed the following recommendations.
Patent Registration is Indispensable
Your steadfast customers will willingly pay $500 for the proprietary ERP software despite the knowledge that they can buy a similar application for less than half the cost. They’re in fact paying more for the intangibles-the brand, the promotions, and the quality-than for the tangible, i.e. the product itself. So, it makes sense to register your logo, brand name, product design, and invention with an authorised IP (intellectual property) bureau by engaging an IP attorney.
Opt for a Patent Insurance Policy
You know it’s a dog-eat-dog situation out there in the big, bad world of business, and that everything’s fair in trade and commerce. Yours might be a SME trying to save itself from being gobbled up by a giant corporation that has blatantly usurped your brand. This MNC will carry on trampling ‘your IP rights’ with impunity as it has the wherewithal to fight a steeply expensive and protracted lawsuit. Opting for an insurance policy will stand you in good stead when you move the court against your adversary for infringing on your intellectual property rights.
Keep Yourself Constantly Updated
A good way of stopping copycats in their tracks is by seeking them out at the outset and nipping their unfair acts in the bud. Networking vigorously with your competitors and clients, attending trade fairs, symposiums and business conferences, and regularly going through trade journals will help you to closely monitor imitators. Your constant visibility will keep copycats on their guard and deter them from going forward with their unscrupulous acts or activities.
Give Your Brand an Image That Customers will Identify with
The internet has made it possible for new-age entrepreneurs to instantly connect with their stakeholders, including the most significant stakeholder-the end user or the client. Make the most out of the numerous automated social media-FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+-to establish an emotional bonding with your customers. Upload an image (it could be your photo or your company’s logo) that’ll have a recall value and your clientele will be easily able to identify with. Steadfast customers who swear by your product will go out of the way to defend your brand from being besieged by imitators by going viral on social networks.
Forge Tactical Alliances
History stands as witness to the fact that ambitious emperors forged strategic alliances with potential adversaries making it easier for them to realise their empire-building plans. You’ll be playing it safe if you go for partnerships with large organisations that already have a lion’s share of the market you’re planning to enter. Entering into a collaborations or associations with multinationals will offer more publicity to your brand. At the same time, fly-by-night operators and copycat concerns will be discouraged from profiteering at the cost of your brainchild.