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In a world of copycats, how can my intellectual property survive?

Protecting your intellectual property can be brutal. In our competitive global market, it seems that copycats are popping up everywhere. All too often, entrepreneurs find that another business has copied their carefully-guarded intellectual property or trade secrets. Taking out a patent or copyright can help safeguard against infringement and theft, but the legal battle involved is often long and costly.

So, how can business owners expect their companies to survive—and thrive—in such an environment? Fortunately, there are a few strategies that savvy entrepreneurs can employ.

Build a strong fanbase

Building a loyal consumer fan base will be crucial to standing out from copycats. Many of the parties that infringe on intellectual property rights do so because their own brand is not special, unique or compelling. When you cultivate a large enough base of customers, they are likely to support your brand and ignore the copycats.

Get social media on your side

One inexpensive, far-reaching tool on your side is social media. With social media, you can alert consumers that another company has been acting dishonestly. Your fan base will not be thrilled to hear that a competitor is stealing from you. You can mobilize your followers to support your case, withdraw their business from the other party and hold the thieves accountable for their actions.

Recruit retailers

As soon as you find out that another company is using your intellectual property, contact your retailers and let them know. It is possible that they will not yet have stocked the knockoff products. You can also have your attorney notify them immediately—there may be legal consequences if a retailer knowingly sells an item that is based on stolen intellectual property.

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