How to spot them, deal with them and stop them driving you crazy

If you follow me online, you’ll know I’m all about giving my competitors a big fat squeeze of love.

But sometimes it isn’t that easy.

I generally take a pretty chilled approach to running my business, and to competitors. But if there’s one thing that really gets my goat, it’s copycats.

It’s fine to be inspired.

But inspiration does not mean copying the page word for word, or replicating the logo, or stealing photos. You need to know the difference.

Copycats are the types who trawl your site and then rip off your ideas, steal your content, and regurgitate your creativity as their own.

Over the years I’ve been copycatted more times than I care to remember.

So in this episode with Maria Doyle we chat about how to deal with Copycats without loosing your mind.

Tune in to learn:

  • How to spot trends
  • When and when not to confront your copycat
  • Whether public shaming is a good idea
  • How to stop looking
  • When to take legal action
  • How to learn acceptance
  • The name of Maria’s crazy attention seeking rooster

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About Maria:

Maria DoyleMaria Doyle helps professionals and industry leaders systemise, optimise and digitalise their expertise into content appropriate for group learning like courses, presentations and workshops. She helps them create quality learning experiences that engage, inspire and motivate; thereby confirming them as the go-to-professionals in their fields. It’s her life mission to transform the lack-lustre learning experiences of this world – both virtual and live – into ‘it-changed-my-life’ experiences.

Visit Maria’s website here.

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Transcript:

Apologies if this transcript is a little sketchy, Maria and I talked over each other and interrupted each other constantly, cos we were just sooo excited. Trying to edit this episode gave my editor a nose bleed.
It’s a good approximation though and it cost me $60 so I thought I’d share 🙂

 

Kate: As you know, if you’ve followed me online, I am all about giving your competitors a big fat squeeze of love. I generally take a pretty chilled approach to running my business, and to copywriters. But, if there’s one thing that really gets my goat, it’s copycats.

 

Inspiration does not mean copying the page word for word, or replicating the logo, or stealing photos. You need to know the difference. So, in this episode of The Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur podcast, we’re going to talk copycats. How to spot them, and how to deal with them, and how to not let them drive you crazy.

 

Hello and welcome to The Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur podcast. I really need to come up with an abbreviation for that, because it’s quite a mouthful. Today I am talking with the lovely Maria Doyle. Hello Maria.

 

Maria Doyle: Hello Kate.

 

Kate: She was very quiet throughout all of that. I told her not to giggle through the intro to put me off.

 

Maria Doyle: And you know how hard that is for me.

 

Kate: I did and the rooster didn’t move. What noise does a rooster make?

 

Maria Doyle: You’ll hear one in a moment, just you wait.

 

Kate: But does it have a name?

 

Maria Doyle: It’s got different words in different languages. I was a language teacher for many years and every language has a different way of saying the cock-a-doodle-do.

 

Kate: Well, we’ll have to Google that and add it to the show notes, but does the rooster actually have a name? That was what I really meant.

 

Maria Doyle: No. The rooster has a number of expletives that are attached to it at six o’clock in the morning when it decides to go off, but other than that, no, it doesn’t have a name. It’s actually not my rooster, it’s the rooster of some family that lives down the lane.

 

Kate: It’s actually not my rooster, there’s the meme for the show. Tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do and why you do it.

 

Maria Doyle: Good question. I, in very simple words, suck peoples knowledge out of their heads and help them do something with it, in very, very, simple terms. So, I work with people from all different walks of life, but the one thing that puts them all together is that they’ve got knowledge and skills, they’re professionals, they’ve been doing what they do for aeons, and they’re ready to teach other people about it.

 

So, instead of it all swimming around in their heads and hard drives, we suck it out, we structure it, and we decide what to do with it, what product to create out of it. It’s awesome fun, it’s a lot of fun. I work with a lot of interesting people across a lot of different industries and I put my 20 years of education and training experience to good work.

 

Kate: And the reason we were talking about roosters randomly, and people will be thinking, why are they talking about roosters, is that you live in Bali, which is rather cool

 

Maria Doyle: I do. I live in two places. I live in Perth and I live in Bali, I’ve got homes in both and I work between them. I have clients who come up to Barley and work with me and get their work done.

 

Kate: That sounds fabulous, but this episode is not about you really. Or Bali, or courses, or any of that.

 

Maria Doyle: None of that.

 

Kate: None of that. Because when I started this podcast, I thought, “There are so many shows where one person asks another person questions about what they do.” And they’re all lovely, don’t get me wrong, they’re all fabulous, but I kind of wanted to take a different tack. Rather than talk about what you do, talk about, talk experiences that we’ve both had, and I picked you this week to talk about copycats. Which, to be honest, have been a bit of a bane of my life. Not so much now, but throughout the years. Have you had any horrendous copycats?

 

Maria Doyle: I haven’t had someone rip off my course, website, copy, or anything like that, but I have had …

 

Kate: Not that you know of.

 

Maria Doyle: Well, no, not that I know of yet. Quite frankly, I don’t even want to look. But yes, I have had a number of clients who have had similar things happen. And I have had people decide we’ll come up with a very similar line of business to what I do, sort of taking an abrupt right or left turn from their previous iteration of their business, which is to me, somewhat. The reaction is always the same, and the advice is always the same, whether it’s to me or to my clients.

 

So yes, I guess, and this is what you’re saying in the introduction as well, copycatting is not a thing. There’s lots of ways that copycatting can present itself. So, yeah.

 

Kate: Yeah. It can manifest in lots of different ways. I have had a lot of people copy me, and I don’t know whether that’s because I look. And, which we’ll talk about later in the episode. Or because people send me stuff, which they do a lot. Or, I don’t know. It’s my … I wanted to tackle this one early because it’s a bit of, has been a bit of an achilles heel for me. I’ve had people who are in my communities, who have taken whole pages of my website and just copy the content of my website. I had a rather interesting one recently, where one of my members downloaded a couple of my templates from my shop, put their logo on them, of their own shop, and sold them.

 

Maria Doyle: Wow.

 

Kate: I know. I mean, Jeez.

 

Maria Doyle: What gives … What … Wow, that’s really …

 

Kate: It’s awesome, isn’t it? It was so blatant, and I saw, “Oh, no, she’s suddenly selling a press release template”, which is odd because she’s quite new to the game. So I went and I thought, “I’m just gonna buy it”, because … So I bought it, and she sent me an email saying, “I’m so pleased you bought my press release template.” And I opened it up, and I compared them side by side. It was exact … It was the same font, it was the same formatting, it was … She’s moved a few words around. She actually improved my grammar a little bit, which was slightly embarrassing. But it was exactly the same.

 

So I sent it back to her, and I said, “What are you doing? What are you doing?” She was like, “I didn’t use it, but I changed it, I changed it a bit”. And I was like, “How? You changed four words.” And she was totally like, “Yeah, my bad, I apologise”.

 

I really got to the point where I was like, “Shall I name and shame”? ‘Cause I was like, really? This is just … What? You know?

 

Maria Doyle: Well, I think … Does that give rise to the question “what is copycatting” exactly? And what is the difference between copycatting, copyrighting, and plagiarism? ‘Cause they’re three different things, and I think, especially with my work with different cultures all over the world, there are certain cultures that sort of, almost recommend plagiarism, because it shows that you are consulting the masters.

 

I know that might sound ridiculous to our culture, where we’ve been raised to not directly take pieces of work from people, and if you do, you need to summarise them, paraphrase them, give credit where credit is due. But there are some cultures that don’t see it like that. So, should we start maybe with a definition of what copywriting, or what … Not copywriting, copyright, plagiarism, and copycatting means to you? What is the difference? Is there a fine line?

 

Kate: You … If you know the definitions, feel free to go ahead and …

 

Maria Doyle: Hang on a second, dictionary, according to Doyle.

 

Kate: I love it. But I’d be interested, what cultures encourage that, do you think?

 

Maria Doyle: Well, when I was working in Indonesia, I mean, I’ve worked in Indonesia all my life, in different capacities. When I was working with academic preparation students in Jakarta, they are going for a PhD in Australia, and they’re doing their academic preparation skills in Jakarta with Australian skills tutor like myself, to learn what they need to do to be able to produce work in an Australian university, at the standard that’s required there. And quite literally, chunks of text presented in essays, and my request for, “Okay, so this is clearly not your work”. And they’ll be going, “Yes”. “Okay, so who’s work is it”? It’s like, “It doesn’t matter, it’s a master’s work.” “Let’s tackle these at the classroom level.” And every one was the same, everyone in the classroom was, “That’s what they tell us to do at University, here”.

 

Now, don’t take these as point-blank this is what Indonesian people do at university, because that may be a very specific set of people.

 

Kate: Sweeping generalisation.

 

Maria Doyle: But it was something we had to address at a classroom level, so it wasn’t just one or two people who had misunderstood what they needed to do in the assignment that I gave them. This was, they had come from years and years of high school university training in this country, and all 26 of them have turned up in a class, and had the same understanding of what is required to produce an academic essay.

 

So, tell me where the problem lies there. I don’t know. But, this is what I mean when I say different cultures or different education systems have a different understanding of what is copyright, and what is plagiarism, and what is reproducing someone’s work, summarising, paraphrasing. Those skills are not necessarily skills that we learn unless you’ve been to university, or you’ve been to classes or colleges that have taught those skills. Would you agree with that?

 

Kate: Yeah. I mean, I guess I’m not so much talking about academic, though. I’m talking about entrepreneurs, so one entrepreneur sees another entrepreneur doing a thing, and they think, “I want to do that thing, so I’m just gonna take it”. So, that’s more what I’m talking about.

 

And I still think the fine line is there. I think one of the first things we should cover off is these understanding trends. I had a colleague who had, she created a graphic for her Facebook page, which had … It was about six months ago, and everyone was using that big, fat brush font, and it said things like “be happy”. It really should be …]. And everyone was using it, and so another competitor did a very similar thing, did a similar Facebook header, and she was like, “Look at … This person’s copied me, it’s so the same”.

 

And I was like, “Kmart has mugs with that font on it, saying ‘live your dream’. It’s a trend, they’re not copying you. Everyone is, that’s the vibe at the moment.” So I think that’s one thing that I wouldn’t define as copycatting. When everyone suddenly jumps on board, some kind of visual, or some kind of metaphor, and everyone starts doing it. Does that make sense?

 

Maria Doyle: Oh, totally. And the 12 day challenge, it’s like, “Oh, I did the 12 day challenge. Everyone’s doing a 12 day challenge. It’s not fair.” It’s a challenge, and there’s 12 days to it. You can’t copyright a number.

 

Kate: Yeah. Although if anyone does a 10 challenge, I will punch them in the tit. I’m just saying, right now, okay? I own that one.

 

I think where the definition lies is pretty odd. I think we know when we copy. And I know that I have copied, or borrowed, or been inspired by. I think we get a bit of an icky feeling in our belly when we know that we’re taking it. But then I remember another person, the person who had copied word for word the pages of my site. I confronted her, as well. I was big on confrontation, back in the day.

 

And she was like, “You know, I really didn’t think I’d copied it. I look at it now, and I can see clearly that I did. But in my mind, I didn’t think I had.”

 

Maria Doyle: And I guess …

 

Kate: And that … Yeah. No, you go.

 

Maria Doyle: I was just going to say, this is point I was trying to make before, about the different people’s experience of what copying is, and where the line is between getting inspired by something, and then using it to the point where it can be seen as someone else’s. I don’t know that that distinction is ever taught in school, or taught in a place where we go, “Okay, this is the same as that one. You cannot reproduce it like this.” But, exactly what you’re saying, people … If you need to show it to someone and say, “Do you think this is close enough to the original, or do you think I’ve changed it enough to be mine?”, there’s a fair chance it’s too close to the original.

 

No? Surely, you know. But do you?

 

Kate: Yeah. And I think there’s parallels you can draw with education and entrepreneurs, because there’s so many entrepreneurs out there saying, “Here’s my plan, here’s my funnel, here’s my seven emails that will guarantee this.” And then everyone uses them, and everyone’s site starts to sound the same, and the copy sounds the same.

 

There’s a very famous copyrighting mentor who’s very into writing copy that’s very like, “Hey, sweet cheeks, come join my gang, my tribe”, and I can spot somebody who’s done that particular course. It may begin with the second letter of the alphabet. A million miles away, are they copying? Are they being inspired? She gives permission to do that.

 

So, I think it’s very interesting that the biggest point that I’ve realised over the years about copycatting, is there is sweet FA that you can do about it, unless you want to pull your legal pants on. And even then, really, it’s really hard to prove copyright, it’s really hard. All someone needs to do is change the tone, or a few words, and it falls out of the ream of legal copyright.

 

Have you ever had to deal with anything legally, or had any of your clients deal with anything legally?

 

Maria Doyle: I’m sort of the extreme in the case. In some cases, I actually tell my clients to take my terms, not my terms and conditions, but my course outline document. I give them a template, and I say, “Use chunks of this”, because there’s no point recreating the wheel. It’s basic … I mean, a course outline is a course outline. There’s different sections, quite often they have a similar name. I guess when it’s given with permission as a template, and said, “Use this and recreate, put your own words in”, that will be fine.

 

Kate: Yeah, that’s totally cool, give permission.

 

Maria Doyle: But, yeah, I guess the thing is, I work with people at developing content every single day. This is what I do, right? So, I have worked with a countless number of health and wellness professionals. They range from … dieticians, to psychs, to god knows what. Any realm in health wellness. Now, how many of those, how much of that content do you think is similar?

 

Kate: Oh, do you want me to actually say?

 

Maria Doyle: Rhetorical question, perhaps. There’s a lot of parallels between what health and wellness professionals put into their content, and that’s not surprising. It’s simple biology, it’s simple science, it’s simple facts. What pulls them apart, what makes them different, is their experience with it, and the case studies they bring, and the activities that they provide. Because the activities are the things that they do with their clients to get them to use that knowledge, and that’s what sets them apart.

 

So when my clients are worried about a copycat, or worried about …, I’ll say, “well, how different is yours? How generic is yours? Can you make yours even better? Can you make yours laced even thicker with your experience and the way that you’ve learnt this knowledge in the world?”

 

You know, I … Foundations are best practised teaching and learning, that’s what I do. That is not rocket science. People have been telling people how to create quality education from the dawn of time. My course online is not anything out of the ordinary. It’s nothing revelationary or new that hasn’t appeared in research before. It’s a culmination of 20 years of my skills. And that’s always the advice that I give to my professionals when they’re stressing about someone doing the same thing.

 

Have a look at how different yours is. Can they recreate your 20 years of experience? And if they’ve got their own 20 years of experience, then kudos to them, and let them use it. That’s what being a professional is all about.

 

So I tend to steer them away from what’s the same, and focus on what’s different, and making theirs as strong as it can be, based on the experience they’ve brought with them along the years. And if they don’t have enough experience to make theirs amazingly interesting and different to everybody else’s who is doing a similar thing, I’m like, “Well, go out and get it”. Go and work with more people. Go and work with bigger groups, or smaller groups, or different types of people, and get the sort of stories that other people don’t have. Does that make sense?

 

Kate: It does, it does. Look, at the end of the day, we’re all producing stuff that’s been produced before. None of us are huge pioneers. Well, maybe some of the people listening are. I know that I’m not. And I think you talked there about experience, but also, I do think personality is a big part of it as well. There are a 150 billion people teaching SCO, and where our teacher is so different, and I’m me, and you can’t copycat me. Well, you could, but it would be slightly terrifying. That is the way that I differentiate.

 

But hey …

 

Maria Doyle: But there’s also trust, right? Like people say “build up trust”. Sorry, cut you off again, we’re just so excited, we have to speak over …

 

Kate: You did cut me off! It’s so rude. I need some kind of prodding stick.

 

Maria Doyle: Well, I was just gonna say how fabulous you are, so can I cut you off and tell you how fabulous you are? Because that’s also the point, right?

 

Kate: [inaudible 00:17:15]

 

Maria Doyle: Oh, why are they buying from me, and not from theirs? So, it would … Maybe that person has just spent the last 10 years building up trust, producing original content, going above and beyond, serving, giving, helping, you know?

 

And maybe they deserve that trust, and maybe they deserve that … Kate Toon offers a new course, sold out in 48 hours. Of course, she does, ’cause she’s brilliant, and she gives, and gives, and gives, and gives, and gives, and people trust her. That’s why her courses sell out in 48 hours. Not because she’s got some amazing graphic designer who’s made her look like a million dollars overnight. She’s got substance, that’s why she sells. Do you know what I mean? So, that’s …

 

Kate: She does, she does. But she also worries about it, too.

 

Well, in the book, in I think chapter nine, I’m actually holding the book, so I don’t know why I said “I think”, ’cause I actually have it open on page 87.

 

I give people some tips on how to deal with it, and we’ve covered off one already, which is “understanding trends”. I think the next one that I would like to talk about, and we can maybe flip flop so we don’t keep interrupting each other, is “learn acceptance”.

 

So, you know, you can trademark a trademark, and you can claim copyright, you can get your business name registered, but really, it’s sometimes it’s accidental. A lot of the times, I’ll be thinking about is maybe not the nefarious “This is great, I love it. I want to use something similar to this”. Or, “She’s already produced this. This could help me get my stuff done quicker, so I’m gonna borrow it”.

 

But, you know, the only people who tend to get copycatted are the people that people admire. You don’t copycat crap stuff. And it’s a terrible line, but pioneers get arrows in their back. God, how cheesy is that?

 

So, you know, often people say to me, “Oh, it’s so flattering that you’ve been copycatted, they’ve taken that. ” I don’t agree with that. I don’t think it’s flattering. I think it’s lazy, and I think it’s rude. I think it’s accidental, but I think sometimes it is deliberate, and it’s lazy. But, at the end of the day, no matter what you think, you kind of have to learn to accept it. Do you agree with that?

 

Maria Doyle: Yeah, you do. And I think that also comes with, sort of what I was touching on before, that sort of confidence that you do have the skills, and the experience, and the background.

 

Kate: You are enough.

 

Maria Doyle: Yeah, to create something that is individual enough that people, if they can copycat, maybe they can copy one page, but they’re never going to be able to pull off your business. They’re never going to be able to pull off you, because they’re not. They’re just not you, and they’re not going to be able to recreate everything you do.

So, having the confidence that you are enough, and that what you do is individual, and just having that confidence. That’s what I’ve had to grow over the last five years, is that ability just to go, “Yeah, you know what? No one’s going to come into this with the same amount of experience that I’ve had. And if they do, then kudos to them. They sound like a great collaboration partner”.

 

Kate: And there’s enough people to go around. I mean, confidence is going to be a recurring theme on this broadcast, ’cause it’s at the root of so many of the issues that we have.

 

Maria Doyle: Totally.

 

Kate: Now, that being said, the next thing I’d like to kind of cover of this, if you do decide to confront the copycatter, how you go about it.

 

Now, I have confronted copycatters I think maybe three times. It’s never been good. Let’s be honest. Even if I’ve done it in the nicest, most polite way, either they’re offended because they didn’t mean to copycat me, or they get caught, and … It’s not satisfying. Even if you kind of brave it in the face and say, “You copied me, didn’t you? Didn’t you?” And they say, “Yes, I did”, it doesn’t make you feel any better afterwards. It really doesn’t. And I’m talking from experience.

 

So, I really would debate whether you want to get involved in that. It is a small business world. Everybody knows everybody. It’s ridiculous, you know. And, it’s just no need to kind of create an enemy out there, I think. They’re not … The lady who copied the press sheet, she didn’t take it down, she didn’t get rid of it.

She’s still selling it. I obviously made little note that maybe I wouldn’t necessarily deal with her in future, but it didn’t resolve anything. So, I’m not sure about confronting.

 

What do you think? Do you think confronting’s the way forward?

 

Maria Doyle: I feel the same as you, and it’s that same … I guess it’s that same conundrum. Do you let things go by that you know are not right in the world, or do you stand up and say something?

 

I think confrontation is quite a strong word. It sounds like a fight. It sounds like you go in all guns blazing, and accusing, and whatever.

 

Kate: As we often do when we’ve just discovered it, so you’re all fired up, and maybe you share it with your friends, like, “yeah, that sucks. Wow.” I’ve seen it in groups where people are like, “Hey look, this person copied me”, and everyone’s like, “Get the pitchforks.”

 

Maria Doyle: Lynch mob, lynch mob, yeah.

 

Kate: “Let’s go to their Facebook page, and all write nasty reviews”.

 

Maybe, bring it to their attention. Would you be bringing it to their attention?

 

Maria Doyle: Yeah. Or maybe just raising it with them, just saying, “Hey, I noticed that you’re selling something in your shop that is 100 percent exactly the same as mine, and I know for a fact that I created it from scratch Can we have a chat about that?”

 

I don’t know. I mean, I personally have never had to do it, and I don’t think that I’d want to. I’m a truth-teller, through and through. Everything I do is about truth-telling, so if I found out someone was copying exactly what I’d done, and I did actually have … Now that I’m thinking of it, I did have those who knew an organisation that started up, and they used my tag line, they used direct statement off my home page in their opening flyer. I didn’t approach them. Quite frankly, I think that if I’d approached them, I would have punched them in the face. But, it was at a time when I went, “Is it gonna …”

 

And I guess this is truth-telling, not just in business, but in life in general. If you think that it’s going to have a positive outcome, and help either them or you come to a better solution or situation for both of you, then have a go at having a calm, collective, constructive conversation about how you can move forward with it.

But if you think it’s not going to change a single iota, then I wouldn’t go there.

 

And that’s why I didn’t bother approaching these women who used my tag lines, and lines directly off my website about education and creating real change in the world, whatever.

Because I just looked at them, and I felt, “Oh, good luck. Just good luck with your venture. And I really hope that if this is how you do business, and this is how you conduct yourself in life and in business, you need to copy someone else’s stuff to get ahead in the world, then that’s not going to get you anywhere fast, and may that karma go with you”. So, I just let it go.

 

For me, I don’t know. I just think if it’s the way people operate, they’re not gonna get far in life, and they’re gonna have to live with that karma. I don’t know if you believe in karma or not, but I’ll not get a woo-woo on you, but I think when you keep putting bad stuff out into the world, bad stuff follows you.

And vice versa, you know? If you keep putting good stuff into the world, then good stuff follows you.

And I just keep doing good stuff, keep hanging around people that do good stuff, and good stuff will come.

 

Kate: Right, that’s enough woo.

 

Maria Doyle: No more woo. Let’s get back to …

 

Kate:  I’ll have no woo for the next three episodes.

 

I do agree, I do agree, I do believe in karma to some degree. I wish karma was the bitch that she says she’s supposed to be, some of the times. I think sometimes, yeah, if it’s how you’re going to operate, you won’t last. Because if you can’t generate your own ideas, you’re gonna come down pretty quick.

 

The other thing I’ve seen a lot of people do, which again, I am not a fan of, is going public. So you go write that blog post, where they’re like, “This person did this, and compare”, and of course, all their troops, their tribe – God, I hate that word – they gang, they get their flick knives out, and they’re like, “Yeah!” And that blog lives for all eternity on their site. I just never think it comes off good. You know, you sound a bit bitter, I think. You know?

 

And I’ve seen … And they make great blog posts, and lots of people read it. And you’ll get lots of people going, “yeah, I agree”, and you’ll get that dopamine of reassurance, “I’m right, I’m right”, because everyone wants to be right. Would you rather be happy, or would you rather be right?   And I just sort of think that then sits on your site like a little festering boil, and on your Facebook feeds. It’s just not a good look. I don’t like it.

 

Maria Doyle: Now, I … And again, I’ve unfollowed people after … Well, unfollow is a bit harsh, but I just go, “Oh, my god”. you may meant to annoy, to not be in circles of people that do that. Get on, name, shame, spread the whole story. At the end of the day, history is his story, right? It’s made up of two words, his story. Or her story. It’s your side of the pic.

 

I don’t know whether it’s just been a long time in classrooms, or a long time dealing with different personalities where you just sit back and go, “Right, this is your side of the story. What’s their side of the story, do you know? They might have an equally as revolting slant on what happened, and you’re only revealing one side of it.”

 

So, I don’t know. When I see someone going all out needing to publicly shame someone, I wonder what’s at the root of it.

 

Kate: Yes

 

Maria Doyle: And I also think … I have written a couple of articles that got a lot of traction, got a lot of, let’s say discussion afterwards, where I was discussing the lesson behind what happened, as opposed to naming the person and going into vicious details about what happened. So, it’s almost like a warning piece for other people. If this happened to you, these are the telltale signs I should have looked for. This is what I should have done to prevent it. And this is what happened afterwards, and this is what I’m going to do next time, almost using it as a reflection, and going, “Right, this happened. This is how I’m not going to let that happen again”, and it’s almost like a warning for anybody else who might be in a similar situation.

 

Kate: And you don’t necessarily name the brand, you don’t do the screenshotting, you don’t …

 

Maria Doyle: No. No. No. No.

 

Kate: I agree. I don’t think confronting, we’ve discussed … That rooster is on one today. He’s shouting Take legal action! He’s going, “Yes, I agree, learn from the lessons. Learn the lessons.”

 

Maria Doyle: God bless him.

 

Kate: The biggest piece of advice I have for anyone who deals with copycats is really to stop looking. Really stop looking, and if you hate following people on Facebook because you’re slightly jealous of them … Ah, rooster.

 

Maria Doyle: I am so sorry. There’s nothing I can do.

 

Kate:
But yes, I have done this. I see someone starting a new thing, and I’ll follow them. And it’s usually at the end of the day, when I’m a bit tired, when I start going down this rabbit hole of what they’re doing. “Oh, no, they’ve done this”, then what … And it’s horrible, and you feel dirty, and like you need a bath afterwards.

 

Do you … I mean, you’re coming across as very zen with your rooster and your barley, and your woo-woo, but you must have moments where you go, “Oh, crap, it’s been … Look, this person’s copied me.” You must have those moments.

 

Maria Doyle: Yeah, totally. And I think it’s, yes … I was saying before, before we came on the show, there’s these business owners who have been a business coach for however long in their business, and then they changed tack, and now they’re telling people how to create quality content. And I sort of look at them and go, “Really? Okay, then. All right. Great. Well, good luck to you.” And I hope that part of your business ventures goes really well.” And I try not to get really sucked into it, because there’s a part of me five years ago that would have gone, “Where’s your background in educational training? Do you have a degree in educational training? Do you have any experience in doing this? Have you went to universities? Have you done with this? Have you done that? I could get really fired up about whether the person had the right to be offering that or not.

 

Kate: How dare they!

 

Maria Doyle: How dare they!

 

But I think that also came with an extreme lack of confidence in my ability, and what I was doing, which was completely unfounded. It was just that first, those wobbles when you first start a business, and that. Am I enough? Can I really do what I am doing? Because, you know

 

Kate: We still have wobbles now. I’m nine years in. I’m nine years in, and still wobbling. Still wobbling, still have the wobbles.

 

Maria Doyle: Exactly, right?

 

So I think it’s that sort of oscillating, that “why am I looking at this? Why am I having this?” And it always comes back to you, it’s all about you and your lack of … Either your lack of confidence, or your lack of belief that you have the ability as a … You might be projecting it towards them, and getting obsessive over them and what they’re doing, but really it’s all about you.

 

I just … To be honest, I agree with that “just don’t look”, just don’t look. Don’t put yourself in a position where you’re going to be obsessing over it. It can be said for copycatting, it can be said for scrolling on Facebook for hours on end.

 

Maria Doyle: Absolutely.

 

Kate: The only this is sometimes to help people to be kind, because want to be kind, including the rooster. They will send me stuff, and say, “Hey, have you seen this? Have you seen this? You know, this person’s done this.”

 

Maria Doyle: Yeah.

 

Kate: I remember the other day, someone said to me, “I have a photo that I used to use of me in 1950’s gear, with a pen in my mouth.” Someone sent me another photo of another SEO person who is using a 1950’s image of a woman with a pen in her mouth.

 

Maria Doyle: Oh, for goodness’ sake.

 

Kate: It’s like, a, it’s a stock shot, b, that is, it’s like saying a picture of someone licking an ice cream is mine, and I’m the only pers – Don’t feed the beast. And I have to go back to them and say, “Thank you very much. I appreciate you sending me that.” And good on them, and I’m not going to do anything about it because I just, I don’t want to engage. It’s so easy to look. You look, and it’s like a little trickle of negativity goes through you and it widens and widens, and suddenly you’re worrying about it all again.

 

So stop looking, and tell your friends not to look on your behalf, either.

 

Maria Doyle: Yeah, totally. I just think the more you focus, where your focus goes, that’s where your energy goes, and that’s where things grow, right? So, if you’re going to keep focusing on other people and what they’re doing, then that’s what you’ll see everywhere, and that’s where your energy will go, obsessing with other people.

 

If you focus inward, like, “Okay, how can I make this any better for me? Or how can I make my business better? How can I make my content stronger?” That’s where the energy will go, that’s where things will grow. So, yeah, my advice for that, and that’s come from a long, a long experience of doing the exact opposite and wondering why my business wasn’t growing.

 

Maria Doyle: Focus inward, and surround yourself with people whose business strategy doesn’t involve copying other people, whose business strategy involves making products and services that suit them as individuals, and is more suited to them and their clients, and original thoughts, and original content, different ways of doing things. When you surround yourself with people that do things like that, the copycats will fade away. Do you know what I mean?

 

Kate: And you’ll just start getting irritated by all your creative business colleagues who hate you.

 

Maria Doyle: And that’s the next episode.

 

Kate: Next episode, “How Not to Hate Your Business Friends”.

 

Maria Doyle: I’m going to go and trouble that rooster.

 

Kate: We’re gonna do that one. You hated me when you first met me, didn’t you?

 

Maria Doyle: I couldn’t stand you.

 

Kate: You couldn’t stand me.

 

Maria Doyle: No, I couldn’t stand you. I used to, and I told you this very bravely one day. Every time you published something, I would just go, “Oh my god. She …

 

Kate: What? Why did you hate me so much? What had I done to you?

 

Maria Doyle: Nothing, but you were successful, and you’re gorgeous, and you’ve got all this amazing content into your website. It’s beautiful, and people love you, and you’re just like, “Oh”. I don’t know, I think this … Oh, god, we could do a whole episode just on that.

 

Kate: We could.

 

Maria Doyle: But yeah, I’m not going there.

 

Kate: But I was never …I just wanted to get it out, that you officially hated me. Officially, it’s true.

 

Maria Doyle: I hated you. I hated it. And now, I’m doing podcasts for you.

 

Kate: I’m sure many people do, and they’re all nodding on you at the moment.

 

I just want to finish up by talking about the reality.

 

Maria Doyle: Yes.

 

Kate: At the end of the day, we’re gonna be woo, we’re gonna ignore, we’re gonna stop looking, we’re gonna look inwards, we’re gonna be confident in our own abilities. But, sometimes it does get to the point where you do have to take steps. If it’s persistent, if it’s ongoing, if it is things like business name, or your tag line, or your intellectual property, then legal action is required. I haven’t had to do this, but I’ve actually had it happen to me.

 

So, and this again, just shows that here I am talking about people copycatting me. I was an unwitting copycat when … I’m not getting into too much detail, but when I named a new product, somebody in the States came along and said, “Hey, we have a product named that thing.”

 

It wasn’t the same. They had a service, this was a thing. And they were like, “we’re gonna take legal action, we’re gonna sue you.” They didn’t go with like a “Hey, how did this happen? Can we resolve it?” They went straight in with a letter threatening legal action, and all of this. It was terrifying, because we didn’t meant to do it. We didn’t know.

 

Maria Doyle: It was really unnecessary.

 

Kate: It was full on. They were American, I think, a sweeping generalisation. There was a bit more pretentious approach in the US, and in the end, we had to hire a lawyer, who went back saying, “It’s a different service. They’re in a different industry, it’s a different country. There’s no way that anyone would assume that it was the same product, blah, blah, blah.” And they went away. But it was stressful, and it cost us about a grand to deal with it.

 

So it does come to that, but again, I wonder how satisfied the person on the other end of that was, and would have been. It is difficult. I see a lot of people on Etsy and Instagram who are artists who get their work ripped off by big brands.They’ve made some cute designs, and suddenly those cute designs are turned into batches by some kind of retail company. That must be really difficult to deal with, and to be honest, is beyond the scope of anything I have experience with.

 

So, I’m not saying I don’t think either of us is saying be loving and kind, and let it go to the point where it’s actually damaging your business. If it’s damaging your business and you feel like you have legal grounds, then it is worth pursuing. But, you’re gonna be in for a bumpy and expensive ride.

 

Maria Doyle: Well, I think there’s a big difference between design work and art work, and say, a course on SEO. Do you know what I mean? Like a course in SEO is made up of words, and visuals, and concepts, and theories, and demonstrations, and activities. And so to copy something…

 

Kate: You know what I mean? It’s like art.

 

Maria Doyle: Yeah.

 

Kate: Exactly.

 

Maria Doyle: It’s a lot easier to lift a new. It’s like, bang, I’ve got an image Bang, it’s on 5,000 mugs being sold in China. Do you know what I mean? It’s a lot … That whole side of artists, my heart goes out, no amount of work and time, that energy that went into their work, and how quickly it can be reproduced and stolen is, yeah. I believe it’s a little bit different when it comes to content, in terms of intellectual property, I think it’s a little bit different.

 

Kate: Yeah?

 

Maria Doyle: Yeah. No. Absolutely. And that’s why I’ve got really tight terms and conditions.

 

I had a client test me very early on with that, and that’s where I made sure that I had all my terms and conditions in place. And that’s why you’ve got lawyers, at the end of the day.

 

If people are going to be, as you say, damaging your business, or damaging … using your intellectual property without your permission, then there’s laws against that, and you should put … there should definitely be action taken. But I guess again, you’ve got to decide if it’s worth your while or not, whether it’s worth, I guess, the time and the cost, and the energy involved.

 

I mean, for something like a trademark issue, copying a whole name of a course, all that can have huge ramifications across the world in terms of licencing, and trademarking, and all that sort of stuff, so. I thinks there’s just different levels and if in doubt, you should be talking to a legal expert who knows where you stand, and knows the possible ways of going forward. My lawyers are brilliant. I wouldn’t be a day in business without them. I don’t think anyone should be, really. I think you should have a good, strong legal team on you, on hand to deal with these sorts of things. ‘Cause they come up from time to time. Its just, it’s what being in business is all about, isn’t it?

 

Kate: It is, it is. Well, look, I think that we’ve taken the copycat, and we’ve pulled it’s tail and it’s ears. I think we’ve covered it all.

 

Maria Doyle: I think we have.

 

Kate: In all it’s glory, along with a fantastic soundtrack of a rooster.

 

Maria Doyle: My doors are closed. There’s nothing I can do.

 

Kate: … waiting for you.

 

So, thank you very much for being on Misfit Entrepreneur podcast. You and the rooster.

 

Maria Doyle: I was just saying, he was saying thank you, as well.

 

Kate: Hopefully be a regular feature on the podcast. We’ll announce it, too, where we’re gonna discuss weird things that happen on the internet. And we haven’t quite worked out how it’s going to work. I think we should invite the rooster along, but you will be back.

 

Maria Doyle: I think you should just say “copycatting with Maria and the rooster”

 

Kate: Maria and the rooster, I’m saying … Can we call him Susan?

 

Maria Doyle: Sue? It’s a he.

 

Kate: It’s my name, Susan.

 

Maria Doyle: Okay, he’s Susan.

 

Kate: Okay. Bye-bye Susan, and bye-bye Maria. Thank you so much, and if you want … and we’ll all have various bits and bobs. If you want to go to her site, and copycat all her stuff, she doesn’t mind. She’s woo-woo. I will put her link on the show notes, and you can go there and cut and paste to your heart’s content.

 

Thank you, Maria. I’m only joking obviously, but thank you very much for being on the show.

 

Maria Doyle: Thanks very much for having me, Kate.