I've always been of opinion that competition is a good thing. It encourages all of us to be better and make better products. While it might be true that imitation is sincerest form of flattery, copying someone else's work is simply wrong.
We recently came across a competitor using our sales copy. The competitor was using a web graph showing traffic on one of our sites, along with our sales copy to promote their competing application. Digging a little further, I realized that their competing application was, in both form and function, identical to our application. The competing program contained identical screenshots, custom program icons and our help documentation. While code of program was, in fact, different, it was clear that our copyright had been violated.
We are not first company to have our copyright violated and once initial emotional reaction passed, we took action.
Dealing With Copyright or Trademark Violations:
Who, What and Where Before reacting, it is important to do homework and research alleged content violator. Arm yourself with information. Determining who, what and where will guide you in taking appropriate steps.
Determine WHO is violating your copyright Research website: do a Whois lookup to determine site's owner. The domain owner can be found by entering domain into http://www.whois.com and clicking on link that says "Whois Lookup". If copyright on software has been violated, check PAD file for author and release date.
Determine WHERE website hosting is located Determine where website is hosted. Web hosts located in progressive countries will be more cooperative in addressing copyright violations. After determining webhost's location, check host's Terms of Service (TOS) and Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) to determine level of cooperation you will likely receive. More often than not, a physical address and detailed information on how to report an abuse claim will be found in webhost's terms of service.
Determine exactly WHAT violations have occurred. When determining if a copyright violation has occurred, it is important to go back to question of what constitutes a copyright violation.
Copyright is a form of protection provided by laws of United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to authors of “original works of authorship." This work can be literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, or similar intellectual works. Copyright protection is available to both published and unpublished works. It is illegal for anyone to violate any of rights provided by copyright law to owner of copyright. It is important to note that ideas can not be copywritten, and while it may be morally and ethically questionable, cloning a software application is not a copyright violation, yet copying a helpfile is a copyright violation.
Copyright protection exists from time work is created in fixed form. The copyright in work of authorship immediately becomes property of author who created work. Only author or those deriving their rights through author can rightfully claim copyright. Evaluate violator's work to determine if text, graphics or any of program or website's artistic qualities are same as your creative works. Print hard copies of any documents and save electronic versions of web pages and executables. Capture screenshots of offenses, save documentation or Help file that contains any duplications of text. Enter URL of offending website into http://www.archive.org to see website's history and determine a timeline during which violations occurred. Look and feel can be subjective, try to focus on obvious or flagrant violations. Copied text or Help files is obvious when filing a complaint with web hosts or other third parties.