How much do you value intellectual property your business?
At We Buy Houses®, it’s one of our most important assets. So much so that we’ve recently launched a Trademark and IP Portal to help educate real estate investors and others about the We Buy Houses intellectual property.
Especially when it comes to Internet activity, there are generally three types of people that seriously violate copyrights, trademarks, and other intellectual property.
This is the person who just doesn’t know any better. Prior to starting a business, I was one of these people. Generally this person just doesn’t know any better and didn’t fully think through what they were doing and why it was wrong. Here are a few examples of IP violations that this person might engage in:
- Copying a website design they like and changing the company name to their own
- Copying blocks of text off of another web site and using it themselves
- Finding pictures on the Internet and using them in their website without permission/attribution
- Using another company’s trademarks in marketing because “other people do it”
Most of the time, as soon as this person is made aware they are infringing on another company’s or person’s rights, they are apologetic and quickly fix the issue.
This is someone who knows what they are doing, and think they can get away with it and “beat the system”. Generally The Conniver will copy a more successful company’s well-known trademarks (i.e. “We Buy Houses” or “Just Do It” or “Starbucks”) intentionally in order to trick consumers into thinking they are somehow associated with the larger company.
Unfortunately, The Conniver often times feels a sense of entitlement, and does not respond to notices or requests to stop infringing. These people often end up with a lawsuit before realizing the severity of the game they are playing – costing tens of thousands in legal fees before the lesson is learned.
The Scam Artist
The worst of the bunch, the scam artist specifically uses well known brands to intentionally rip people off. Think those fake IRS scam calls saying “call us back and pay or you’re going to jail”. Scam artists have always tried to trade on the trust (or fear in the case of the IRS) built with large, well known brands to convince their victims to do something.
The scam artist is someone who should be in jail, but by operating through throw-away phone numbers, fake addresses, and anonymous websites they often get away with ripping people off for years before being caught.
Real estate is especially susceptible to this. Scammers will use well known national company names in their advertising, and trick home owners into signing over their property for nothing – disappearing once the deed is done.
Take Away: Don’t copy slogans, designs, images, websites, or marketing materials from others! It will cost you much more than it is worth.