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Threatened and harassed with false copyright infringement claims


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Hi everyone, hoping someone can give a little advice.

 

A friend of mine has just started a small hobby business selling hand-made cosy sacks for small pets. Lots of people make them and there are various online tutorials showing how to sew them etc. She sells them mostly via her facebook page, but also on eBay and Preloved.

 

Over the last couple of days, she has been receiving angry messages on facebook and ebay from another seller who makes them demanding she remove hers from sale immediately. This seller claims her sacks are copyrighted and that my friend is infringing on her intellectual rights by making and selling them.

 

Obviously this is silly as my friend's designs are not exactly identical and as I said before, many people make them for sale. The reason this nasty seller seems to be picking on my friend is because they have both used the same fabrics for some of their products. It turns out that they both live in the same area and are likely using the same store to buy their materials. A complete coincidence.

 

Yesterday, the angry seller registered the copyright with some online company that gives you a fancy certificate and registration number. I know this means very little, as it's no proof that the work is hers, but she has now faxed a copy to eBay with the intent of getting my friend's listings pulled. She has also allegedly reported my friend's page to faceboook. Just now, my friend received an email from Preloved saying her advert had been removed due to this person's report.

 

My friend is very upset and doesn't know how to defend herself from these attacks or protect her ads and listings on various sites. Does she have any grounds to get a solicitor involved? And is there any where she can get some free legal advice? She has been trying to call her local CAB all day, but the phone is constantly engaged.

 

Thank you for any advice. :)

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don't see how copyright would be in issue here re the sack itself? they would need a patent?

Edited by Ford

IMO

:-):rant:

 

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That's what I thought, but this seller seems convinced it's a copyright issue. She doesn't hold any patents to my knowledge, she makes her products on the side as a hobby that brings in a little extra income, just like my friend.

 

She is claiming that the sack, when made with specific fabrics, is copyrighted to her. Those fabrics are found in many home textiles shops and do not belong to her in any way.

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afaik, generally, no patent = no protection

did a quick googly re 'cosy sack', loads about, including heated ones - now that (the heating method re a sack) could poss be patented! but otherwise, don't see how a sack could be protected (apart from any poss trademark/design on a sack). copyright seems n/a.

but, am not a patent attorney! so, to be sure if poss/can afford seek legal/patent advice.

and/or, in meantime could complain to preloved etc saying eg believe there is no infringement of anything, consult your legal dept, please reinstate ad?

Edited by Ford

IMO

:-):rant:

 

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Thank you, I need to convince her to find some legal help then. A letter from a solicitor would put this issue to rest, I'm sure. Do you know if she may be entitled to any legal help with something like this?

 

I've not seen the heated sacks that is indeed a clever idea! :D But in this instance, she is just making plain old normal ones like everyone else, two bits of fleece with a bit of wadding sandwiched in the middle.

 

I believe she has now written to preloved asking for her ad to be reinstated, but she probably won't get a response until Monday now.

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To get a patent there has to be something unique about the item. For the item mentioned, it would be very difficult to get a patent. Copyright would suggest that the name of the product advertised by your friend, is the same as the other persons. I am not sure 'cozy sack' would be a name that could be legally copyrighted, even if you can buy some dodgy certificate online.

 

I would suggest thinking of another name, other than 'cozy sack' and then to continue selling the items. What about 'Pet cozy sack'.

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.....I've not seen the heated sacks that is indeed a clever idea! :D ....

 

am applying for the patent on that right now :)

IMO

:-):rant:

 

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am applying for the patent on that right now :)

 

What happens when your Hamster is slowly toasted to death !!!!!!!

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To get a patent there has to be something unique about the item. For the item mentioned, it would be very difficult to get a patent. Copyright would suggest that the name of the product advertised by your friend, is the same as the other persons. I am not sure 'cozy sack' would be a name that could be legally copyrighted, even if you can buy some dodgy certificate online.

 

I would suggest thinking of another name, other than 'cozy sack' and then to continue selling the items. What about 'Pet cozy sack'.

 

There's no dispute over naming, the are both quite different in that regard. The issue is that they are both making these sacks with the same fabric. I don't think even a patent would protect that, because surely the nasty seller would have to have exclusive rights to use that fabric? In which case, it wouldn't be on general sale in Dunelm Mill, unless it came with a disclaimer label saying it could be used for any purpose except making cosy sacks for small animals lol.

 

am applying for the patent on that right now :)

 

Darn, you beat me to it! :D

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What happens when your Hamster is slowly toasted to death !!!!!!!

 

at least the sack would then have been product tested :)

Edited by Ford

IMO

:-):rant:

 

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@Uncle b

afaik would be re trademark, not copyright, re a 'name'?

 

Maybe. I really don't know. Coca Cola is a trademark, but you could not trademark the word Cola, as it is a generic name. I though copyright because I could not think how you could copyright the materials used in making these cozy sacks. It would be a bit like the first person to make a pair of leopard skin pants, copyrighting this and saying nobody else could make/sell leopard skin pants. Therefore this person has somehow decided to use copyrighting as a way of protecting cozy sacks being made/sold using the materials. I think they just don't like the competition.

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Thank you, I need to convince her to find some legal help then. A letter from a solicitor would put this issue to rest, I'm sure. Do you know if she may be entitled to any legal help with something like this?

 

.....

 

civil legal aid? unlikely. cab prob won't be of much use on this unless they can get a sol to do a freebie for them. worth a try though. as you say, might need no more than a stern letter, preferably from a sol/patent attorney

IMO

:-):rant:

 

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If using the same material was the reason, then Apple (the masters of copyright suites), would be suing Samsung because their telephone is made of plastic like the iphone.

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If using the same material was the reason, then Apple (the masters of copyright suites), would be suing Samsung because their telephone is made of plastic like the iphone.

 

didn't the guy who invented the ipod sue apple and win eventually (or it was settled in his favour), and now apple sued samsung and won (not re the material though!). apple got their money back, plus a bit more!?

Edited by Ford

IMO

:-):rant:

 

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I think apple has sued everyone in the world, haven't you had your papers yet.

 

Has she said in actual words what the 'claimed' copyright default is over the material used in the making ?

 

If so, wouldn't it be easier for you to find something different, something better and more attractive than hers?

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am applying for the patent on that right now :)

 

That has been around for many years as we had one in the sixties if is the same thing. Basically you warmed it up and it stayed warm all day. The other one more commonly known as the "wonder box" contained 2 pillows. You heated the pot on the stove and then inserted it in between the two pillows and it would still be hot several hours later. Great for cooking food like a casserole or stew.

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I think apple has sued everyone in the world, haven't you had your papers yet.

 

Has she said in actual words what the 'claimed' copyright default is over the material used in the making ?

 

If so, wouldn't it be easier for you to find something different, something better and more attractive than hers?

 

She keeps changing her story it seems. Usually it's the use of the specific fabrics, but on a couple of occasions she has said it's her "unique" method of keeping the sack entrance rigid that has been copied. She uses thick wadding between the fleece layers to do this, other makers tend to use a piece of plastic or wire.

 

My friend has adjusted her design slightly already, she now fills the entire lining with wadding rather than just the opening. This has made no difference to the other seller's claims of copyright infringement however.

 

I certainly agree that the other seller appears to not like the competition, but instead of dealing with the matter in a professional manner, she is using threatening behaviour and reporting my friend's listings.

 

I will seek further advice on Monday, hopefully we can get through to the local CAB. I am awaiting a response from Preloved regarding the ad that was removed yesterday.

 

It's very worrying that someone can falsely make claims like this (to the point of having business listings/ads removed) with no comeback.

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The way the openings are done with more wadding is hardly a unique design point. I think what your friend should do is complain to the sites she uses to advertise, saying that this other person is annoyed at the competition, so is trying to wrongly use copyright, as a way of removing the competition. Point out that this type of product is not something particularly unique, as there are many such products available through different outlets. Also there is no issue of trademark or patent infringement.

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That seems to be all we can do, I just hope the sites concerned don't feel that this is a slanging match between two parties and side with the wrong one.

 

As yet, no action has been taken against my friend on eBay or Facebook, so I'm hoping they have decided to disregard any reports already made to them. Preloved have been in touch with me, but require more information, I am waiting to hear back from them, hopefully with a positive outcome.

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get your friend to add links to the other sellers (not nasty) sites and marketing etc as part of her complaint ref the nasty seller - evidence of similar items in a different arena would sway the ebay/preloved legal dept as they dont want to get involved in a bitter row.

 

Your friend should also write to the nasty seller outlining these other sellers and tell the nasty one to 'let it lie' dodgy copyright cert or not it wont stand up in court!

 

Although there is nothing to stop the nasty one trying it in court

I am fighting it all the way :-x

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