LaunchHER Law :: When Imitation is Annoying – Making Copyright Protections Work for You


Kara J. Jensen Zitnick, Esq.


Jensen Zitnick, P.A.


The material contained herein is meant as general information only and should not be taken as legal advice.

No attorney-client relationship exists as a result of merely reading this article.

Image courtesy of Shelly Kennedy, be your original best founder

“it is so unfair!
i want to stomp my feet and shout like a toddler (i have, and i do)

copying the work of others is NOT NICE! it’s simple. don’t copy!

be inspired.

be creative.


be your best.

now – i’m aware that no ideas are truly original. i get that. all artists and creatives seek their inspiration from somewhere. what i’m talking about is an intent to replicate a work, and then market as your own – same material, same size, same colors, same fonts, same description (sometimes even cut & pasted right from the original source!)

as a consumer i see copying all OVER the place! craft fairs, etsy, catalogs, trade shows,- fabrics, figurines, decorative accessories, decor, shoes, blog copy, clothing, magazine lay-outs, wall art, jewelry, – you name it. “just because everyone is doing it” – doesn’t make it right .

–Shelly Kennedy, be your ORIGINAL best founder

Hear, hear! Unfortunately, Shelly’s observation that copying seems to be everywhere doesn’t seem too far from the truth. I see it everyday, and it makes my blood boil.  It’s been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Um… really? To me, it’s not flattering. It’s annoying. It’s offensive.  And – it’s illegal.  So what’s a creative gal to do? Read on for my top three “Copyright Best Practices” you can utilize now to protect your creative works.

1.      Give Notice

Prominently display a short statement on your work that informs would-be infringers that your work is original and protected. It’s that simple. Giving Notice eliminates an infringer’s possible defense that the infringement was unintentional or accidental. Why does this matter? If the potential infringer cannot prove unintentional infringement, you have a much better chance to prove the infringement was willful. If you can prove the infringement was willful, you stand a much better chance of winning statutory damages (AKA, money) in an infringement action.

2.      Register

Formally registering your creative works and obtaining a copyright has so many advantages:  If you register your work and get a copyright, your chance of obtaining those statutory damages (AKA, money) in an infringement situation are so much better than if you do not register your work. Best case scenario, really, is to register your work before the infringement occurs. If you do NOT register your work and obtain a copyright, stopping the infringement after it occurs may result in you spending money to hire attorneys to stop the infringement. And without the registration, you cannot take full advantage of copyright advantages, such as getting your attorney fees paid by the infringer AND statutory damages (again, money).

Bottom line? Register your work right away. Before the copycats have a chance to strike.

3.      Make Your Copyright Work for You

By now you may be thinking registration seems like just a big hassle, because then I have to actually sue the infringer to get the damages (money), and I don’t really want to sue. So I will just take my chances.


Even if you don’t ever foresee yourself bringing an infringement case against a copycat, registering your work is important to consider for what the registration on its own may do for you. The shear existence of a registered copyright can be enough, in many situations, to scare the infringer to stop the infringing action.  A strongly worded cease and desist letter, including your registration information, as well as the statutory consequences of infringing, may be enough to bring an end to the infringer’s actions. I have seen this theory in action. It’s a good day when the copycats are shut down. Furthermore, when a copycat is faced with defending his claim and is made aware of the monetary consequences of his infringement, via the same cease and desist letter, suddenly settlement becomes a very attractive option to the infringer. I have also seen this theory in action. Never underestimate the power of a registered copyright.

Where to go from here………

  • Register your copyrights.
  • Give notice of your copyright on your blog, website, webpages, blog posts, text, graphics, etc.
  • Actively enforce your copyright protection.

Because we here at LaunchHER take the issue of copyright infringement very seriously,

for a limited time, we are offering

affordable, specially-priced flat-fee legal representation specifically for copyright issues.

Services include:

copyright registrations,

copyright enforcement against infringers,

and copyright notice consults.

For more information contact

©2011 Kara J. Jensen Zitnick, Esq. All rights reserved

No part may be copied or reproduced without express written permission from the author.

LaunchHER, Jensen Zitnick, P.A.


  1. Great post, Kara! The one looming question I have is how to go about registering copyrights for internet-based businesses where the product line changes often? With my natural bath & body product line, I regularly offer new scents/discontinue others and introduce new products. I am a mom-owned small business and afraid I would literally spend a fortune in copyright registrations :-(

  2. love this, Kara! seriously, it has been sooo annoying when people blatantly steal your ideas. i know i wasn’t the first to hand paint shoes, but really? do they need to take my exact designs? and use “seen on oprah” on their ladybug shoes??? how do they sleep at night knowing they’ve ripped someone off. i’ve worked so hard to protect my products – and it has paid off!

    so glad you’re spreading the word about this – many new business owner’s don’t understand or even know about this. XO – Jenny


  1. […] Best blog in an effort to increase awareness of the issue. {You may remember Shelly from this post here on […]

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