It is one the worst feeling to see your creativity get copied without getting any credits. Originality is getting vanished due to the ease of how things are being copied in the modern world. This is becoming a big issue for the brands who spend their money and time on creating something new and others are enjoying the benefits.
Miranda Kerr, the wife of Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel, had accused Facebook of copying Snapchat’s stories option. Interestingly, Blackberry had accused Snapchat of infringing on 6 BlackBerry patents. BlackBerry has also accused WhatsApp and Instagram of infringing on Blackberry’s messaging app patents. Now social networking platform VoxWeb is claiming that Facebook has lifted its speaking pictures feature by allowing its users to record voice over pictures for Facebook stories. Sounds very confusing, isn’t it?
Intellectual property expert Mathew Chacko shared his thoughts on such cases in a recent interview and he said: “Fast growing companies focus on technology, profitability and fundraising. In the rush to be the best, some tend to ‘’borrow’’ ideas, technology and processes from others.”
According to Vinita Radhakrishnan, BananaIP Counsels, intellectual property owned by start-ups is often violated by large companies and even research institutions. “We have also noted Indian start-ups emulate/copy/infringe the IP of foreign entities at various levels from idea conception to implementation,” she said.
A report shows that global counterfeiting in 2016 was equal to $461 billion annually and has doubled since 2008. Experts believe that copying is relatively easy in India and the GIPC data shows India achieving a very shameful score of only 8.75 out of 35 against 6 IP categories that include trade secrets and market access, patents, copyrights, etc. The score of countries such as USA and UK are 32.62 and 32.39 respectively.
Infringement is a big negative for growth and profits of an emerging company. If something is copied by a larger company than the original, the impact is worst as people think that the copycat is the holder of originality which is not true every time.
The reason why copying is becoming so popular is startups instead of innovating with original ideas, want to follow shortcuts and obtain the profits in quick time.
Yash Mishra, founder, and CEO, VoxWeb, thinks that big brands do this to kill an emerging competitor.
“Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp were boot-strapped around a utility or a key feature. Facebook knows its vulnerability and how a new innovative product can create an existential threat. That’s why they either try to kill the up-and-coming product by copying its core feature and thus removing product differentiation, or try to buy their way out of this threat, by purchasing that product at a lofty valuation,”
The best way to deal with the copycats is to have a robust pipeline of innovative features. The makers need to make sure that the product remains ahead with some additional qualities. Startups should innovate faster and file for patents before making any disclosures publicly.