Back in July this year we noticed that our NEW business venture Special Occasion Foils had caught the eye on another balloon company and that we were featuring very strongly on their company blog, they had noticed that Special Occasion Foils had a Facebook Account and that a new website had been commissioned, they had also noticed that Matthew Lewis Displays had a Face Book Account ( which will be linked to the new website when it goes live), in fact by reading their blogs over the next few weeks it seemed they had been keeping quite an eye on me, how very nice of them. There was no cause for concern as I myself often view other company website from time to time as i bet you do as well, but alarm bells start to ring in early August when they announced on their blog that they were about to trial there own version of Special Occasion Foils ( how flattering is that, my own idea is good enough to be copied) but then looking deeper into this it was brought to my attention that whenever they had mentioned Special Occasion Foils the wording was in bold type and in a lime green colour and quite a nice lime green as well. But why !, well I can now tell you why, by mentioning Special Occasion Foils on there blogs it gave them a better Google ranking so when you typed Special Occasion Foils into the Google Search Engine a link to there website appeared directly underneath the Face Book account for Special Occasion Foils. This is known as Passing-Off which could misdirect customer who were searching for Special Occasion Foils
A lot of time, money and effort has gone into Special Occasion Foils to such an extent that the name is registered with Companies House and that Special Occasion Foils is now a BRAND and a protected BRAND
The next shock came on Thursday 20th August when I noticed their latest blog which was entitled Special Occasion Foils with 5 picture of foil balloons with various artwork overlayed, the artwork was different to that of mine but even the wording was the same” On our Special Day“. It was not the artwork that annoyed me, in fact it was very good artwork and very well layed out, it was the fact that to advertise this on their blog they had used my brand name Special Occasion Foils. I sat back and had the think hard about my next move, I made a few phone calls and listened to some good advice, a letter was drafted that very day and sent Via Royal Mail Special and also emailed, it was not a nasty letter, it was just a well written letter . See below…All names and references have been removed so as to protect the identity of the other party
It has been brought to my attention that there may be some confusion created with your marketing of your printed foils. We are a long established professional company with an excellent reputation. One of our Brands is a registered company called Special Occasion Foils as such this is a brand belonging to us and references in your marketing may be construed as such. By using our company name you could be seen as passing-off.
You also appear to be using several references not only to our company but also using the titles Special Occasion Foils in your online marketing which could misdirect customers looking for our registered name to you. As a courtesy from a professional industry member we would request that you remove all mentions of our Company name in your marketing and not name pages or titles with our registered company name.
Deliberate use of intellectual property not belonging to you to gain sales is not a great way to start your business and legal proceedings are expensive. There is plenty of work out there for everyone and using professional means to get it is the best way forward and as you are a NABAS member I expect you to be setting and maintaining high industry standards.
I would expect all references online as well as print marketing to be removed within 7 days and wish you the best of luck in your venture.
By Recorded Delivery and Email.
As a result of this letter all their company blogs that had reference to Special Occasion Foils were removed the very next day, I was not proud of the fact that I had to send this letter in the first place but I was infact proud of them for seeing right and acting promply. As a result of this I recieved a telephone call from them later that afternoon, a good rapor was struck and I clarified why I had done what i did, walls were removed, bridges built and allies formed , Well done you guys.
Now rather that trying to explain about branding why not read below, it’s a very well written passage explaining why we protect our ideas, enjoy
We all remember the ads that catch the imagination.. it may be Nick Kamen stripping down to his boxers in the Levis ad or one of the ones everyone remembers is the martians in the SMASH ad; these are high profile ways of marketing a business.. which come with hefty price tags. Just because we are small and medium sized businesses (SMEs to those that put us into a box) does not mean that branding is not important to us. In fact it is even more so. We may not have telephone number budgets to play with but we can create memorable brands.
Let’s start with the company name.. it is really important to tell people what we do and make it easy to remember… after all we have to say it every time we answer the telephone.. assuming we get our marketing right and it does ring.. An easy to say name that tells the customer something may make it more memorable for them when they need our services. Creating a logo for our brand is also a great way to reinforce it… after all if pictures are worth a thousand words.. ours should be clear, concise and easily recognisable. When we see logos on the internet or in print it goes to reinforcing the brand in our brain. They say different things to different type of people depending on the products they represent… for example cars… some people love one brand and others another… they may do the same and in this day an age the only difference may be the badge on the front – but who really wants to drive a Skoda…? It’s the same with everything, customers want reliability and integrity of the products they purchase and if your company looks the part you are already a step ahead of the competition.
Larger companies have the added advantage of deep pockets… they can copyright almost everything down to the font and colours they use… as a small business the price of doing this takes it out of our price bracket.. but that does not mean the intellectual property rights of something we create are not ours nor that we cannot protect what we spend time and money doing. It is a very small world and pictures and ideas are copied in every industry so it is very important that we look after our designs, brands and pictures.
Copying may be the most sincerest form of flattery but it can be very annoying when someone copies your hard work down to the last flourish and tries to make money from it. We all see things and get inspired, after all there is very little that has not been thought of before… If you can be bothered you can get software to stop original pictures on the internet being downloaded and simple emails claiming ownership to those showing your work on their own sites usually does the trick. Regular housekeeping and quick searches keeping an eye on your competition is probably all you need to make sure you are on top of it, and of course we all do that as matter of course in our marketing schedules don’t we?
Let’s face it litigation is very expensive and if the competition thinks our work is worth stealing we must be doing something right… so just keep doing it… up the stakes and create better designs and send to all your customers, show them off to the world at trade shows and online and add even more eloquent pictures to show something worth stealing… then protect it like a hungry hawk with his catch… The competition? What competition?