Me too, me too!

Me too products are – like kids in a playground calling out to Mummy – nothing but companies copying the ideas of others.

Let’s not get this wrong – many me-toos are highly successful. But it can be infuriating to the original inventor of the idea to see their inventiveness leapt on and exploited – for a fraction of the original investment. Why? Because normally the first product had to create the market, advertise for new users, and basically do all the hard work with all the associated risk.

Of course sometimes me-toos go one better than the first product so they deserve to steal all the thunder, but often they’re literally cheap copies, riding a wave of enthusiasm set in motion by someone else with an eye for innovation.

So what should you do if you’re copied? Answer: seriously consider sueing for damages (if local laws allow you to). In Germany I sometimes see some amazingly close copies that I’m 100% sure companies wouldn’t get away with in the UK.

Let’s take a debatable example:

Me too, or not?

Me too, or not?

The key question in the eye of the law: is this copy of Red Bull trying to pretend it’s the original? If it is, it’s illegal, as then it’s “passing off”.

I think they just about get away with it, although the choice of another red animal as the copycat symbol of the brand is a major coincidence, n’est ce pas? (see also Penguin vs Puffin). But it goes to show: if you’re copied then you must be on to something. So one tip would be to keep one step ahead of the copycats like this puma – and find something uncopiable (eg, patent the packaging format, product formulation, etc).

If you find more examples of blatant copies, do contact me or post your comment here.

More on this debatable issue: here.

Alex Woodruff

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