As a crafter you spend hours dedicated to making beautiful unique items. So finding out that someone else has stolen your idea can be heartbreaking.
on the 1st of October 2014 the Intellectual Property Act 2014 came into force. This means that it is now a criminal offence to intentionally copy a registered design.
In today's world of Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram It's difficult to protect your ideas, but there are ways that you can reduce the chances of someone poaching your intellectual property (IP).
First lets talk a little about Intellectual property rights.
It is possible to own the intellectual property of;
- something you have designed.
- something you have invented.
- the name of your product or a brand.
- something you have written or produced.
Step 1 - Protect your name and logo
Your brand is possibly the single most important part of your business. It encompasses the combined reputation, standard and quality of your enterprise. The last thing you want is to find out that someone has been riding on the coat tails of your brands success by imitating it.
You can search to find out if your business name is available to register as a trade mark and apply HERE.
Step 2 - Protect your designs
These are classed as "design rights" and automatically protect your 3D designs from 10 years after they were first sold or 15 years after they were created.
if your design is 2D, for example a fabric or wallpaper then you MUST register them to be protected.
You can register your 2D designs HERE.
Step 3 - Protect your images
I have written a much more detailed article regarding how to protect your images HERE.
Step 4 - Protect your data.
This may not seem that important. But remember that all of your product research, images, passwords and written content is most likely saved on your computer.
80% of cyber attacks could have been avoided by taking steps such as updating anti-virus software. IPO, IP Basics 2016
To protect your designs you must first protect your computer.
Step 5 - What to do when you find someone using any of your IP
If someone is using your IP on Facebook
If they are selling through a group then report the post to the group admins and to Facebook.
You can do this by clicking the downward facing arrow to the top right of the post and selecting "Report Post".
If they keep using your IP than you can escalate the issue to Facebook directly HERE.
If someone is using your IP on Etsy
Report IP infringement to Etsy HERE.
If someone is using your IP on their own website
It is much more difficult to implement an IP notice on a website. This is because website hosing providers are not held responsible for the content held within the sites that they host. You can try to report infringement to Wordpress etc, but as they are not legally liable it is unlikely that they will do anything about it.
In this instance the only option you have is to contact the website owner yourself. Often the site owner has no idea that they are infringing copyright, and will be more than happy to credit any images that belong to you.
If they refuse then you can enlist the help of a copy righter or a solicitor that has experience if working with IP infringement.
If someone is using your IP on Instagram
I have found a great article over on the Me & Orla blog all about what to do in the event of Instagram IP infringement.
Read it HERE.
For more information on where you can go to register your designs, click HERE.