Company is copying another’s ad

| 30/09/2018

Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian statusI have been a small business owner since 2011. I now have an issue with another vendor (I’m not sure if they are actually licensed or not), who is literally copying my online advertisement content word for word and using it in their own adverts. Would you be able to tell me if there are any laws or regulations that would prohibit this? I think that it is highly unacceptable that I put in time and effort to create my advertisements and have to invest in advertising, then someone else just comes along and copies everything from my ads and use as their own.

Auntie’s answer:  I sought advice from the Department of Commerce and Investment (DCI) and the short answer appears to be ‘no’. Section 19 of the Trade and Business Licensing Law, 2014 says licences may be refused or revoked if “the person is carrying on or intending to carry on trade or business under a name which is likely to mislead persons”.

The section then outlines the ways in which this deception may be carried out, including using an identical name or registered trademark to another licensed business.

However, a DCI official pointed out that your specific complaint has to do with another business copying your advertising content. “This means that the other vendor is copying information from their advertisement but have not actually used the name of the complainant’s company,” the official said, adding, “There will also be an issue of whether the information in the advert is a copyright which restricts any other person from using the same wording.”

If there was no copyright infringement, however, the way forward may be limited for you, the official explained. “The complainant can write to the board complaining of the copying; however, based on law the board has no power in law to restrict the use of the words but can take action if the other company is using the complainant’s company name to advertise.”

To register a complaint, email DCI.

The law mentioned in this column can be found on the
CNS Library

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Category: Ask Auntie, Misc Questions

Comments (3)

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  1. If a third party has copied your written advert word for word, or has copied a substantial part of your advert, you can sue them for copyright infringement in accordance with The Copyright (Cayman Islands) Order 2015 and The Copyright (Cayman Islands) (Amendment) Order 2016, which extended Part 1 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act including Schedule 1 of the Act, to the Cayman Islands. As a first step, you should take legal advice and consider sending a warning letter to the infringer requesting that they cease and desist in their infringement. This kind of approach usually leads to an early settlement in cases of clear infringement. Sophie Davies (HSM IP Ltd.).

  2. Anonymous says:

    Welcome to Cayman. This is standard practice. The big guys rip off the little guy on a regular basis. Too lazy to come up with their own copy and it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

  3. IP Student says:

    Section 19 might still come into play for the writer. The Law of Passing Off could likely be considered. As I’m only a student studying IP law, I would not say outright no, but maybe speak directly to the trademark office or hopefully an IP lawyer see’s this and share their thoughts..