I was recently falsely accused of stealing someone’s quilt pattern and using it as my own. This person handled the situation so badly that I was actually embarrassed for her as a business woman. I thought maybe she could use some advice and perhaps there are others out there who would possibly make the same bad decisions. I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. For legal advice please consult a lawyer.
Here are three simple business tips on the topic.
Determine if they actually copied your pattern by downloading the pattern you think is possibly a copy. Either download their free pattern or purchase their pattern. If they have copied your pattern (images and instructions) then you have a copyright issue. Also look at their pattern image and your own. Are they actually the same? The pattern in question is my Pixelated Skull Quilt pattern which was a free download for my newsletter subscribers but I have now decided to make it free to anyone. (Another thing that could backfire on you if you falsely accuse someone… you may inadvertently cause more interest in the free pattern you wanted to quash!) In my case mine is quite obviously different from hers but she jumped to conclusions that mine was a copy without even taking a closer look.
If she had downloaded my pattern she would have been able to see that it was not a copy as I have never seen her pattern before and my written instructions would have been totally different from hers.
If you have determined that the person actually did copy your pattern or is sharing your pattern file send them a private message in which you calmly and professionally state that you believe they have copied your pattern and as the copyright holder you request that they remove the pattern from all platforms and stop distributing it immediately.
Do not send a passive aggressive public comment on a social media post that says “Thanks for copying my pattern out since 2015. Not cool.” This will not get you anywhere and is very unprofessional and childish. In my case I simply deleted the post she commented on and created a new one which got way more traction than the original post did.
If the person does not comply then send a cease and desist letter yourself or hire a lawyer to do it. There are templates for this out on the internet. You can also send a take down notice to any platforms that are hosting the pattern. Again, templates for that can be found on the internet. Only do this if there was actually a copyright infringement. A design being “similar” or a “similar” idea is not a copyright infringement.
If they still do not comply then you have to ask yourself if it’s worth pursuing further. Are you actually losing enough money from this to make the expensive legal fees and hassle (and possibly bad press) worthwhile?
My design is free and I am not making money from it. Also, Pixelated skulls are a very common design. Google says there are over 2 million images when I do an image search.
In her case, she owns the copyright to her images and written words. She does not own the copyright to the idea of a Pixelated Skull quilt. Ideas and techniques cannot be copyrighted.
Regardless of the outcome or whether you decide to pursue further legal action do not call the person out on social media or any public forum. This makes you look bad and is bad for your business.
This woman, let’s call her “she who must not be named,” put a public post on her Facebook business page and her personal Facebook page in which she named my business. She also encouraged her followers who said they were sending me hate emails and social media messages. You will notice that although it is tempting to publicly shame this person Daydreams of Quilts is taking the high road here and not stooping to her level.
Later that day I put out photos showing where my free quilt pattern inspiration came from and it was not even a quilt. It was a plastic perler bead craft. The nasty messages stopped pretty quickly after that! She has made herself, and her followers who publicly commented negatively, look very bad. They have all portrayed themselves as having low intelligence and being unable think critically and were quick to adopt a lynch mob mentality. This is not an image a small business owner wants to portray to current and potential customers.
I spend thousands of dollars in the sewing industry every year and often give shout outs to my suppliers on social media. She who must not be named has guaranteed that not of those thousands of dollars will ever be hitting her bank account.