March 29, 2012 2:30 PM   Subscribe

A local competitor has copied my website. What are my options?

A local competitor of mine, who offers similar services, has copied my website, including customized wordpress templates, a trademarked logo, and our organization's mission statement. The duplication is word for word, except that the competitor's biography contains that person's biographical details, not mine; and the logo is a knockoff of mine, not a pixel-exact replica.

Generally, what are the legal recourses for something like this? I don't mind if this person has a website, but this one is so similar to mine that I think there's a risk that people would think we're affiliated. I don't want to be affiliated with this person because this person is incompetent and unprofessional - which I knew even before this stunt.

Recommendations for good attorneys in the So. Cal. area who might be able to assist with this would also be appreciated.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Sockpuppetry to Law & Government (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
DMCA takedown notice. No lawyer required unless it fails. This is not likely.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:38 PM on March 29, 2012 [6 favorites]

I was about to link to the same DMCA takedown advice as DarlingBri. If you want to hire an attorney, this guy is a smart cookie.
posted by exogenous at 2:41 PM on March 29, 2012

The thing to be concerned about is not so much that the website exists, but that it appears in Google search results (assuming it does) - file a DMCA report with Google and Bing.

Once they find themselves removed from the Google index they should be motivated to do a redesign. If you feel like being nice you could tell them in advance that this action is on the cards and see if they are willing to fix things without all the legality.
posted by Lanark at 2:46 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

~8 years ago I found a website for a similar company that was using all of the content, word for word, from our website, including the same company name (we were in CA and they were in FL). They didn't copy our logo/design. We just sent them a polite, strongly worded letter and they changed their site, so just doing that is worth a shot.
posted by disaster77 at 2:47 PM on March 29, 2012

Are they using images hosted on your server? That's been known to occur when unsophisticated people steal HTML; they forget to update the image URLs.

In that case, you can play games with them using your .htaccess file, so that they get versions of the images which contain your message about how they stole your site.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:09 PM on March 29, 2012 [10 favorites]

For more details (warning: low brow chuckles), check out's experience with hosted images.
posted by GPF at 3:37 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yeah, have you contacted them about this? Simply knowing that you are aware of their shenanigans might get them to stop.

I would start with a strongly-worded letter in which you inform them that they need to take down their site immediately or else face a DMCA-takedown notice and, should that fail, a lawsuit. And then -- and this is where your letter differs from the garden-variety toothless legal threats that most people safely ignore -- you need to follow up on your warning. You need to have the DMCA-takedown and the lawyer lined up in advance and ready to go, and if they don't comply you need to drop that stuff on them without hesitation. It'll get sorted out and you'll be able to do so with the minimum amount of force required by gradually ramping up that force.

You're squarely in the right here, so don't be worried on that front. Do get together whatever documentation you can showing that your version of the site predates theirs.

Basically, get your ducks all lined up in a row -- stern warning, DMCA notice, lawsuit -- and then start deploying them. It's a hassle but it'll be totally worth it and you'll be OK in the end.
posted by Scientist at 4:26 PM on March 29, 2012

I wouldn't give them the warning, in case it prompts them to make just enough changes that the DMCA takedown rules wouldn't apply.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:27 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thank you all for your helpful replies.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Sockpuppetry at 9:54 AM on March 30, 2012

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