Competing Seller Copying Designs

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Ebay, Auctions, Car Boot & Jumble Sales
12 replies 1.1K views
havealovelydayhavealovelyday Forumite
5 Posts
Hi,

new account but long time member and poster, posting under a different account to ensure my post can't be linked to my selling profile.

I sell my own designs on cards on ebay - I don't use copyrighted images or phrases. Imagine birthday and greetings cards, and postcards.

My understanding is that even if I am using an uncopyrighted phrase (for an example, let's say "I Love Carrots"), the design is my copyright - eg if I use a typewriter style font on a purple background, that's MY design, and other people can't just copy it.

Another seller, who sells the same kinds of cards as me, over the course of time, has simply lifted all my most popular designs. Now, as I said, they are uncopyrighted phrases, so there is nothing to stop them taking "inspiration" from my design, changing the font or the colours, adding a picture, and there's nothing I can do about it. However, if they stick up a card with a purple background and a typewriter font, am I right that's copyright infringement?

I know I can file with VeRo, but are there other options open to me?

Thanks for any advice :)
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Replies

  • Gary123456790Gary123456790 Forumite
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    Ebay wont take them down under Vero where other sellers copied your listing, they used to do it but it just got stupid with sellers getting each others listings taken down so they no longer do it.

    I've had chinese sellers copy my listings (other than price of course and some extra blurb at the end to do with postage) and as far as I can work out there is literally nothing I can do about it.

    Cheers.
  • Thanks for the reply.

    however, it's my design rather than my listing they have copied, hence why I am looking into VeRo.

    The seller is also based in the UK, which is why I am looking for advice.

    Thanks
  • edited 25 November 2019 at 7:48PM
    the_lunatic_is_in_my_headthe_lunatic_is_in_my_head Forumite
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    edited 25 November 2019 at 7:48PM
    for an example, let's say "I Love Carrots" the design is my copyright - eg if I use a typewriter style font on a purple background, that's MY design, and other people can't just copy it.

    To me that sounds to simplistic to claim as a design but the real answer is to speak with a solicitor firm who specialise in copyright.

    If you remove listings via VeRO and it turns out you didn't have the right to it may cost you if the other seller won't let the matter lie.

    You really do need to be sure of what you own before taking any action.

    As an aside did you design the font type yourself?

    In addition eBay own your content as well:

    "When providing us with content (including causing content to be posted using our Services), you grant us a non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual (or for the duration of any copyright or other rights in such content), irrevocable, royalty-free, sublicensable (through multiple tiers) right to use the content (including, without limitation, creating and using derivative works), and you authorise us to exercise any and all copyright, trademark, publicity, database or other intellectual property rights you have in or to the content in any media known now or developed in the future. Further, to the fullest extent permitted under applicable law, you waive your moral rights in the content and promise not to assert such rights or any other intellectual property rights you have in the content against us, our sublicensees or our assignees."
  • Thanks for the reply.

    We have purchased commercial licences for the fonts and clip art we use.
  • the_lunatic_is_in_my_headthe_lunatic_is_in_my_head Forumite
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    Thanks for the reply.

    We have purchased commercial licences for the fonts and clip art we use.

    If you think the other seller isn't paying for that content when they should be it might be worth a word with the place you license from.

    They may do the dirty work without any risk to yourself.
  • RFWRFW Forumite
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    Thanks for the reply.

    We have purchased commercial licences for the fonts and clip art we use.
    Are you purchasing designs exclusively or can someone else buy them as you do?

    I'm in a similar area and someone could mimic my designs but if they wholly copied them I could do something about it. The way I work is different so it wouldn't really arise.

    I think even the big card companies have similar problems. I do know of one supplier who was issued a cease and desist letter from a multi national company for copying their design on a Christmas card.
    The problem is once they're out there there's not too much you can do about it without spending a fortune on solicitors.


    Try Ebay, try the source of your images (they may have a scary legal department that could send the other seller a message). If it's a lot of trade you'd be losing then try a solicitor. If it's just a few quid then try and use it as a marketing gimmick, ie "Our products are so unique that other sellers are copying them, shop with us for the original and best quality".
    .
  • Hi,

    thanks for the reply.

    I subscribe to a large online stock image site - the other seller doesn't.

    To stick with my carrot analogy, I might use a cartoon style image of a carrot with words in a type writer font above and below my carrot. Their design will use a typewriter style font, not the same as mine, and a cartoon style image of a carrot, although not the same as mine. Usually take from the first page or two of a google image search and although I couldn't be certain, given their lack of respect for my copyright, I doubt they are respecting other's copyright as well.

    So although the two designs are not the same - theirs is an almost identical copy of me. It would be almost impossible to argue we had both come up with the same design.

    But the suggestions to find out where they are getting the images and tracking down the copyright owners is a useful suggestion.

    I'm far from a large scale seller - whilst I am considering legal action, if it runs into several hundred pounds I'll only be cutting my nose off to spite my face, as it's unlikely I'll recoup the fees in sales.
  • RFWRFW Forumite
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    To stick with my carrot analogy, I might use a cartoon style image of a carrot with words in a type writer font above and below my carrot. Their design will use a typewriter style font, not the same as mine, and a cartoon style image of a carrot, although not the same as mine. Usually take from the first page or two of a google image search and although I couldn't be certain, given their lack of respect for my copyright, I doubt they are respecting other's copyright as well.
    So essentially they're copying your idea? If you're certain that yours is totally original (try Googling it to make sure), then you could try getting some free legal advice and writing them a letter. There are some forums online frequented by solicitors that may offer you a template that you can use. Whether it works or not is another matter.
    It may well be just one of those things that you have to try and forget about.
    .
  • the_lunatic_is_in_my_headthe_lunatic_is_in_my_head Forumite
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    To stick with my carrot analogy, I might use a cartoon style image of a carrot with words in a type writer font above and below my carrot. Their design will use a typewriter style font, not the same as mine, and a cartoon style image of a carrot, although not the same as mine. Usually take from the first page or two of a google image search and although I couldn't be certain, given their lack of respect for my copyright, I doubt they are respecting other's copyright as well.

    So although the two designs are not the same - theirs is an almost identical copy of me.

    I think the question is one that has to been answered professionally as where is the line drawn?

    If I sell a card with just a circle on it with some text saying "Life is a full Circle" can I claim that as a design? Can I claim that design here by just stating the idea?

    I also think what ever you do online will be subject to being copied and if this current seller stops another will take their place at some point and as annoying as it is ignoring them for an easy life is far better IMHO.
  • Hi,

    It's not only annoying - it's cost me sales - though the legal fees may outweigh the sales I would get back if I pursue them that way.

    To reply to your suggestion, if they make their design with the same colour and style of font, the same size and colour of circle and put the text and the circle in the same place, I think that's copying me - and that's where I'm trying to find if my understanding is correct before pursuing it further.

    if they take my design and use a different font and colours, and move it around the card, as I don't own the copyright to the phrase, I don't have any claim - that's what my issue is.
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