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The fine line between copying and tweaking

Directly copying the competition may not only be a poor business decision, but it could also be illegal. You could be violating copyright laws and trademarks. This gets especially tricky when copying ideas and other types of intellectual property. You must be very careful and could run into all manner of legal issues if you steal what is owned by someone else and use it to make a profit.

However, it's often hard to define exactly what is stealing and what is not. Some people, often referred to as "tweakers," tend to walk this line.

The name refers to the process of taking something that exists and tweaking it to make it better than it is. This is not inventing in the same way that coming up with a brand new product is, but it is just building on other people's inventions. When done without violating copyright laws, this is legal.

For example, some people point to Steve Jobs and Apple when talking about this process. Apple did not invent many of its most prolific products. A tablet computer came out years before the iPad, for example. However, Apple was very good at taking a product that was already on the market and tweaking it to make it more attractive, more user-friendly or more useful. They also branded the products incredibly well. They're often given credit for changing the game with electronics, despite not inventing these devices.

However, it can be easy to get too close to that line when doing this. If you do, and if you're facing charges and lawsuits as a result, you must know your defense options in Maryland.

Source: Social Triggers, "When Is It Okay To Copy Your Competitors?," accessed May 26, 2016

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