When someone copies you, or something you have done, it can be a tad annoying. Cast your mind back to school and having to fence yourself in behind books (or cradling with your other arm or hand) to stop someone near you copying your work. Nobody wants their ideas stolen, so how can imitation be the sincerest form of flattery? If it is in the context of learning, it could be argued that listening would be more sincere if the aim truly was to flatter.
Why can there be only one?
The answer is quite simple: to distinguish your business from competitors. The best way to do that is to protect your work – or brand – by copyright or trademark.
In the movie Highlander, a group of immortals with special powers battle against each other to become the ultimate warrior. Some may interpret the plot of this classic eighties movie as a group of guys beheading rivals until there is only one warrior left standing. This same analogy can be applied to business. A company wants to be the only one bearing that name. In a wider context, a company may want to be the dominant brand in their industry and will stop at nothing to make sure it remains that way. Some businesses would simply like to protect their reputation and perhaps make sure that nobody ‘passes off’ as them and thus, causes confusion in the marketplace. The appointment of a trademark gives a business a proverbial sword to protect itself as it eliminates the chance of consumers confusing one company or service with another.
In the windscreen replacement industry, a culture of copying another company’s trading name is rife. For example, a quick search on the internet will reveal there are many firms operating as Autoglaze yet none of them are connected or associated in any way. They are all effectively, in competition with each other. It appears to be such a popular name for a windscreen company as it almost sounds and looks like Autoglass. Perversely, you will not find any ‘copies’ of Autoglass as anyone that has even attempted anything remotely similar has been, in a legal sense, beheaded. Autoglaze on the other hand is not protected and some have tried to make their version of the name more original by adding prefixes or suffixes. It’s as amusing as it is nonsensical. Why call yourself something similar to a business already in existence? Can’t think of one of your own? Just copy someone else’s? Could it be that there just aren’t enough options to choose from? It didn’t stop the KFC brand. Kentucky Fried Chicken became the household name on both sides of the Atlantic, but in recent years, a trend of fried chicken shops calling themselves AFC, DFC, PFC or any other ‘FC’ they thought they would get away with saw KFC respond with a ‘Guys, we are flattered’ advert. The Highlander reference perhaps indicative of in another of their statements:
“”We invest time, effort and skill into freshly hand-breading Kentucky Fried Chicken in our kitchens – all day, every day – and that’s why you can only get KFC at KFC.”
Brand protection. Is it business, or vanity? If it’s the latter, perhaps you shouldn’t be in business. Emotions can be good in business but vanity can easily blur the boundaries of navel-gazing. Let’s not forget who the protagonist is in your business. And if you want to make sure your hard-earned reputation is found by your customers, having someone copy your name might affect your chances. As far as emotions go in this sense, it’s frustrating and an effing nuisance.
Despite registering a trademark when Glasstec was incorporated, the plagiarists have been at it. Glasstech; Glasstek; Glastec; Glass Tech; Glasstech UK; Glasstech Repairs and a few more have all popped up. It’s tiring. They are nothing to do with Glasstec Automotive Ltd and are allegedly, potentially, infringing on a preexisting (and subsisting) trademark. Perhaps some of them have been named innocently and unaware of how Intellectual Property rights work. The government website does make it easy, after all, it was referred to when the mark was first applied for. It’s not difficult.