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Sloan
Sloan

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Would you call out a developer who is copying your ideas AND design?

This is an anonymous post sent in by a member who does not want their name disclosed. Please be thoughtful with your responses, as these are usually tough posts to write. Email sloan@dev.to if you'd like to leave an anonymous comment or if you want to ask your own anonymous question.


I was working on a small project, and it started getting some traction. Another developer DMed me, asking me about how I made the project. I didn’t disclose the information, but they told me that they were “inspired” by my thing, and would update their own product now.

A couple days later, they announced a “Big new” feature on their product. It was a TOTAL ripoff of my thing. Even the design is exactly the same (but worse)! So the person literally copied my entire idea... like literally even the design, when I confronted him in Dms, he was like, it's not that similar like wtf? it's the same... he tried to rip off the same thing and made it worse

In fact, he even copied my twitter bio 💀

And copied the same logic I used for one more feature of my product.

That’s ridiculous. You know what’s even more ridiculous? His product now has 5 times as many users as mine. He used my idea, my design.

This is so unfair. But I have no idea what to do about it.

Is it right to call out someone who copied your idea? Because technically anyone can come up with it? I have the complete proof with the messages and everything. Is there something I can do, or should do in this situation? Or just sit around and keep developing my own product in hopes of it also getting popular one day?

All this happened a month ago. At this point, I honestly don’t care as much because I love my product and I also have a lot of users. But I also know that mine is obviously better (cause he ripped it off) and I’m the one who came up with the original idea.

I’d love some help.

Discussion (5)

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fjones profile image
FJones

It's a very fine line in software. For starters, I'd like to think as an industry we're still to a large extent driven by altruism, and as such the contributions we make to the overall landscape are valuable regardless of the value we can extract from them.

But it's also a fine line because this industry runs on copying. Iterative design, cross-pollination from others' best practices, UX commonalities, the list goes on.

A few things stand out to me, though:

His product now has 5 times as many users as mine. He used my idea, my design.

This implies that the product you created is inferior in some other ways - even if it's just the marketing. Ultimately, they ran with it and made it work better. We can argue about the moral imperative here, but at the end of the day, Amazon and Apple exist because of situations like this one.

But I also know that mine is obviously better (cause he ripped it off) and I’m the one who came up with the original idea.

This is a dangerous train of thought. While I don't doubt that your product may have a technological edge, it's not a healthy approach to raise one's own work to such heights - even without people copying it. Constructive criticism can easily start to feel like an assault on the work you put in, for example.

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adam_cyclones profile image
Adam Crockett

Is it right to call out someone who copied your idea

You wont come out the better person but it might feel good? For a little while..

Either share your ideas with licenese in place and proper IP
or
Keep it quiet, I am sorry this happened to you, it happened to me once too but I chalk it up to, my contribution made something better and I dont work for credit I work for making things better.

But think of it this way, you learned a lesson, you can get another idea, maybe even work with the developer, if you believe that your original idea is a good one, try and share it by assisnting the developer that "borrowed" your idea, get rich

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capz profile image
Leroy • Edited on

As much as it sucks, that's just the way these things work. Even the notion of stuff like copyright (doesn't apply to concepts and ideas) is actually explicitly created to allow for people to take concepts and iterate on them. Only specific implementations can be protected. Iteration and improvement on existing ideas are more or less the cornerstone of human innovation.

It's probably best to flip it around and see if you can find some aspects that this clone does that you are not, and make them even better. That might be marketing or features in your software. Or as mentioned you could see if you could join forces in some way. Solo dev really isn't the best way to go about software development, the collaboration is where things start to really take off, and 1+1 suddenly be comes 3

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theaccordance profile image
Joe Mainwaring

People copying the works of others is nothing new, nor exclusive to software. While annoying, often times there's nothing you can do about it (unless you have a rock-solid IP case). I've had multiple copy-cats of my works, and instead of letting those guys live rent-free in my head, I just ignore them. Thankfully in all instances (so far), the copy cat hasn't overtaken my works in popularity/revenue.

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ghostclonelol2000 profile image
*<}:-{~ .a.K.A. DOOM • Edited on

Anything past c++....
W/ filters and ect....