How to fight clones?


I would like to know your views on fighting clones.

For example look at these web pages.

It is pretty clear that Polldaddy launched poll service first and was popular in no time. The second one in the game created a clone and offered the same features at half the price. They didn't even bother to create a different comparision page for pro accounts. Every single bit is a copy.

I am now afraid of starting a service. In no time the source and idea will be copied and hosted on some cheap servers for half the price. Sorry if I am bursting out. But isn't this so immoral.

How can one survive this kind of competition?

Software Competition

asked Oct 13 '09 at 18:23
18 points

7 Answers


In my opinion being first and building buzz about your product/service can create an enormous first mover advantage. This is all dependent on the fact that we are assuming you create an awesome product which solves a real need.

This is clearly visible in the case you presented. Listed below is the data for both services: Polldaddy had 638,000 unique hits in September while the competitor had 681.

Don't worry about the competition. Just build an awesome product. Release early and release regularly. Build buzz and expect the competition to start copying you. If they don't I would be a lot more worried.

answered Oct 13 '09 at 21:26
Usman Sheikh
1,728 points
  • Great point. I totally agree - don't worry about copycat businesses - worry that you're delivering real value to your customers. – Denis Hennessy 14 years ago


Seth Godin has just posted a blog entry about just this subject:

answered Oct 14 '09 at 19:36
Denis Hennessy
1,363 points


Cloning some aspects of your feature set is inevitable. Basecamp's features were cloned so many times by different products over the years.

Like Arpit mentioned, "Passion" cannot be cloned.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the Customer's "perceived value " should be always greater than your cloners.

answered Oct 13 '09 at 20:58
547 points


I think have a competitor that started photocopier can give you a quick message: your idea is smart and your business model is good.
On the other side people sure acknowledge you that you started first and you have more skills and passion about it (as other answers said).

You can use such imitation not to stand over you victories but trying to improve even further your services.

Just my 0,02 € of course

answered Oct 13 '09 at 22:06
118 points


In the web, it seems as first is King. For each successful website there are many, many websites that offer the same service for less but they are not as popular because they don't have as much followers.

One good example is, they were first and still are when it comes to online classifieds... and you'll have to agree that their website is not the prettiest or the one with more features... they were popular first one and they are the most popular right now.

Having competitors just means that there is a market for your product or service, offer something original and be good with your customers and they'll probably come back for more.

answered Oct 14 '09 at 12:44
4,815 points


Competitive advantage:

  • IP/Knowledge/Skill set
  • Brand

  • Size and scale.

You should stop worrying about cloning and make your service better/superior day by day. No one can truly clone "passion".

or better you too copy and paste, that way it won't hurt. (kidding)


See these webpages:

It's hard to say who copied whom, and it doesn't really matters. Search is mostly Google followed by Bing.

AFAIK, there is something called DMCA, for details you'll need to talk to a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property.

However, you can't do anything about the situation cuz someone in some unknown country would still clone your stuff and your lawyer will say - I can't do anything about that.

answered Oct 13 '09 at 20:31
Arpit Tambi
1,050 points
  • Thank you Arpit. Is there anyway that I can enforce the copyright or apply for patent for such ideas? – User625 14 years ago
  • have updated my answer... – Arpit Tambi 14 years ago
  • I would suggest don't worry about spending the time/money to protect your ideas (unless there is TRUE IP involved, which there usually isn't). Someone is going to copy you. 10 other people have the same idea as you. Spend the time focusing on execution and the other guys won't have time to copy you fast enough. – Justyn 14 years ago


Like others said, a clone can validate your market audience, but you would have already anticipated the growth path hopefully. Being first to market will give you a buffer and when you add features, your cloners will have to play catch-up. Trust (us). You're first online solution wont stay the same (otherwise it will fail anyway). Never forget to take customer feedback and tweak things when they say they'll pay. Quick - who is Twitter's Clone? Um... How about Linked-In? MySpace? Sure Facebook, but after how long and how many millions invested?

On the copywrite/IP issue, you have a couple options. Let's say you were the original Twitter and they cloned you. No problem: keep on eye on them, and once you realize they're getting funded - file a lawsuit (making sure you've got all the original IP stuff dated to back you up). The site has some hints on IP protection. You can patent website solutions btw - and file to register copyrights. If you failed to execute and best your clones in the market, at least you can settle out of court for some nice change. Note, this might only happen before the clone is profitable and can hire enough lawyers to bash you. And it only makes sense to pay you off to go away (and stop scaring off their potential investors). Are copyrights enforceable? That's about the only way I know. Chasing clones and begging them to stop just wastes your time, fattens your lawyers and makes you look petty.

Other countries? So what? There are less than 10 huge markets worldwide. Worry about making it in 1. The money to be made on the WWW does not truly come from WW.

answered Dec 3 '09 at 13:47
119 points

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