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My new SAAS product is a month or two from launch, and I've had a temporary (trademark approved) site up for a long time, and announced it publicly at a conference in January to potential customers & collaborators). A competitor just popped up with a suspiciously similarly constructed product, but without my background in the content area. A content provider on his site is well-known to me, and I had offered to speak on the subject of my product at his seminars. I foolishly wrote the content provider, not realizing he was more than a contributor--he was THE expert on the site. Within days I saw the competitor's site shift to copy my own product position even further. I've taken down the temporary site and am focusing on getting my far better product out. My concern: he could potentially accuse ME of copying him, since he's already launched (an incomplete product, but his game was clearly to beat me out the door.) My choices: 1. Send a note staking out my territory to preempt him and make him think twice about copying me further when I launch (the years I've spent in development, the public announcement in January. 2. Just ignore him and move on.

Thanks--I saw a similar question so thought this might be appropriate here.

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Civil penalties for copyright violations are stiff. I always send a certified letter to the owner of the site as well as the hosting company notifying them that I am the legal copyright owner of the content and that I consider their site to be a derivative copy of mine. Mention that by copying your ideas, text, content or pictures, etc. they are in violation of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act).

Then I tell them that I expect immediate removal of the content and kindly explain the legal consequences if they do not. The tone of the letter should not be threatening... just explanatory and informational.

If the site is not taken down, you can hire a lawyer or just forget about it and move on... your choice.

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The comment by @Sparky672 is spot on. There's rarely need to resort to an official C&D (cease and desist), but I would guard IP vigilantly. If the property is worth it, which it sounds like it is, consider measured escalation.

Also, there are websites (Google, Internet Archive) that can be used to show the status of a website in the past. Not sure if it would hold up to the rigor of either archivist or court evidentiary standards.

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