As bricks and mortar businesses pivot to online models during the pandemic, the temptation to ‘borrow’ content from a competitor’s site in order to get a head start is ever-present. The unfortunate result is that many businesses who have invested heavily in the development of their online marketing strategy can suffer unfair incursions from copycat competitors who merely cut and paste valuable original content.

So do businesses have a legal remedy in such situations? Oftentimes, yes, however it can depend on variety of factors, such as:

  • The extent of the copying. For example, are they merely drawing inspiration or copying text verbatim?
  • Do you own the rights to imagery that have been copied? For example, did you take the photos yourself?
  • Is the competitor displaying any registered trademarks belonging to your or your affiliates?
  • Are they marketing a product which you are exclusively licenced to distribute?
  • Are they leading customers to believe that they are affiliated with your organisation or that they represent you?
  • Are they making any claims which may be misleading? For example, leading viewers of the site to believe the content is theirs or developed by them.
  • Does your website contain terms of use which clearly prohibit unauthorised re-publication of certain content?

Sometimes, such conduct can be inadvertent and the offending company may willingly and promptly act to remove the problematic content. However, often, the circumstances are more complex and the assistance of a lawyer can assist to identify legal remedies as well as strategies to safeguard your organisation’s valuable intellectual property. Acting quickly and seeking advice early on can frequently be instrumental in obtaining the best outcome and limiting the long term damage to your business.

If you require assistance to promptly act on unauthorised use of your organisation’s online intellectual property, contact our team for on-point, commercial guidance.

Joseph Carneli
Senior Associate