Legal Dispute: When Products Are Too Similar
You sat up all night long just thinking it through over and over. Weeks, months and possibly even years of testing, evaluating, pitching, worrying and finally, you can release your product onto the market. Doing all that hard work and putting your money into your dream to start your own business was all for this moment. Fast forward a little while ahead, and you get a letter through the post from a company you’ve never heard of before. The letter is kindly worded but it accuses you of ripping off that company’s product. They’re not threatening legal action against you which will result in financial loss and possibly even the public tarnishing of your business breaking trust with consumers. What do you do? Well, you’re just a small business owner and an entrepreneur so you should technically fall under the weight of a big corporation right? Absolute nonsense, you don’t have to give in to pressure when you know you’re in the right.
Make a comparison
One thing that large corporations aren’t always prepared for is a rebuttal from a small business owner they accuse of copying them. The best thing you can do is make an informed, calm, collected and very detailed report, comparing your product to theirs. Point out the key differences, attributes, and also include the business model. Talk about size, weight, look, feel, pricing, target audience etc. The clear differences between your products should be photographed and labelled. One of the best examples of corporations muscling each other while having no basis at all is the Samsung vs Apple iPad dispute. Apple accused Samsung of copying their design for their own tablet. They were trying to suggest that having sleek corners were copying. Anyone onlooking this stupidity would be laughing. Since when do shapes of product suddenly become patented? But this is what can be done to your product by another business so be wary.
Forcing your hand
If direct communication through emails and written letters have not worked, prepare yourself for legal action. It might be a bluff in an attempt to get you to cower and just back down. However getting a good legal team on the case just in case may prove to be very prudent. If you get a letter through the post explaining that you’re being sued, take a deep breath and get ready to fight for your corner. The area of legal matters you are concerned with is corporate dispute resolution. Commercial litigation solicitors like Slater Heelis will take you through the process. They’ll advise on what you need to do to build up a case that will ultimately be tested in court. Dealing in mediation, court proceedings and unpinning your objectives at every stage of the negotiation are just a few ways the solicitors will be doing. The importance of experience in this part of the legal system cannot be underestimated. The legal team you choose need to know the business laws off by heart.
Never cower or fear a larger corporation threatening you with legal action because your product is similar to theirs. The bottom line is they’re afraid of a small business taking their customers from them. If you know your product has been designed and manufactured as uniquely as possible, you should be willing to hire a commercial litigation lawyer and fight for your business.
Picture Source AJEL
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