Website Inspiration vs Plagirism

purpleonlineadmin

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2010
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563
My first ever MyBB thread. Apologies if this has been discussed before but wanted a more specific discussion to our case by the MyBB community.

Our company is in a very saturated market in South Africa, we do online presence and marketing solutions for businesses formed in 2009 (we all know how everyone started to claim they social media "experts" all of a sudden this year), so you can imagine we compete with kids charging pennies for appalling work, to big players charging 4x4 car installments. We have found our niche and our business model has been to provide a higher QoS to our clients to retain and grow their businesses (90% client retention rate so far).

The problem is naturally like any business you also want to capture the bigger clients for your own reputation because you know based on merit alone you can go toe to toe with some bigger names, problem is you have to set yourself apart, network and prove yourself (all this without any funny kickbacks and brown envelopes in the equation because we are an honest business at the end of the day trying to achieve something, skin colour aside). We send dozens of proposals, mostly with samples to leverage our own case, with disclaimers (we are a business not freelancers so we know the legalities of copyrighting, trademarking etc in South Africa), but we do get incidents of some potential clients "trying" their luck by rejecting what we offering, and then "stealing" some design concepts under the general accepted norm that it's taking inspiration not plagiarism.

Have any other MyBB members been in similar situations (freelancers and other industries are welcome to add their opinion and experiences) and how do you balance entirely new business against the growing kickbacks army. I'm personally totally against bribing anyone to get new business, and sadly in my experience some of our presentations have been rejected on the premise that the said client is bound to another contract, and later on a new website pops up with some elements from our presentation showing up on this clients website a few months later. We won't mention names but as we speak we currently in a back and forth case with a very big company, who have a contract to another big player, and they just launched a new website after July 2012 (our proposal was made around March-May 2012) and contains clear elements and layouts from our presentation, won't mention names for legal and professional reasons. Does business in South Africa boil down to kickbacks and brown envelopes or face no long term potential? We've just been lucky enough to have had a great bunch of clients who appreciate our hard work, but to someone else this could be luck they don't have.

So do you stop sending samples totally (potentially shutting yourself out anyways)? Risk it and get harder on those who are "inspired" by your work? Let it all go and risk damage to your own long term reputation especially when your main selling point is being different from the "expert" army?
 

morkhans

A MyBroadband
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Jun 22, 2007
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I've seen some companies include a consulting fee for the initial spec. If the proposal is accepted the fee is waived, if not you get paid for your initial input time. Can be hard to sell, but ensures you get paid for your time and will probably filter out the time-wasters and chancers.
 

purpleonlineadmin

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2010
Messages
563
Sounds like an idea, but then again comes down to processes I suppose. A well established company can most definitely do that as their reputation is known, harder to apply to smaller SMME's wanting to prove themselves. But I like and have seen that idea applied with the guys approached by leads. Does save a lot of grey hairs TBH.
 

rward

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2007
Messages
862
I've seen some companies include a consulting fee for the initial spec. If the proposal is accepted the fee is waived, if not you get paid for your initial input time. Can be hard to sell, but ensures you get paid for your time and will probably filter out the time-wasters and chancers.

^^ This is definitely the way to do it.

As for companies that take your proposals and give them to someone else to complete, do you really want to be working with them anyway?
If you've done the above then you've been paid for your time doing the proposal and skip the mess of working with a bad client.

When it comes to website development, unless you've done something groundbreaking then I'd say your probably clutching at straws by saying that someone is using your proposal.

This is coming across harsher than I mean it: Because your proposal has 3 column layout with menu on the right, latest news, latest weather, whatever else on the frontpage, that doesn't mean that you have sole rights to those elements.
Footers have contact details, terms and conditions links, Facebook fan boxes, etc, etc. None of this can be said to be "proprietary"..

If however, you created something like the http://www.dangersoffracking.com/ then sure, that's pretty origional..
 

noxibox

Honorary Master
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Apr 6, 2005
Messages
20,862
You can't protect this kind of thing. Even if one customer paid, once the site is in public view if someone else likes something about the site's look and layout they're going to take it and use it. And they should.

This doesn't just happen with web sites. We're always looking at competitors' products to see what they're doing, and I'm sure they do the same.

When it comes to website development, unless you've done something groundbreaking then I'd say your probably clutching at straws by saying that someone is using your proposal.
I'd say it doesn't even look particularly similar. The only time someone might have a case is if the new site were an exact copy of theirs. And even then they'd be on shaky ground.

If however, you created something like the http://www.dangersoffracking.com/ then sure, that's pretty origional..
Yes, that is different. But even here someone can take inspiration and use elements of the design. Of course the more unique the site the less likely it is to be easy for the user to navigate and use.
 
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