Our Instagram dilemma started early Wednesday morning on the 13th of May. We received a direct message from an Instagram follower in the United Kingdom letting us know that someone had stolen some photos from our account. A link was shared but we couldn’t see the post, so we didn’t take too much notice of the comments and went back to our daily routine. Little did we realise that the business in question had blocked our @fluffycrunch account so their posts would appear as unavailable to us.
A screenshot of the Instagram direct message alerting us that our images had been stolen and repurposed on another Instagram account.
Later that evening while trying to unwind and relax we revisited the message and decided to use our private account to check out the business in question. As soon as their Instagram account opened Paola and I both blurted the words “What the f---? We were looking at about 12 images that belonged to us...the only twist was that the fraudster had photoshopped an image of their brand over our logo. It was a piss ass effort as the dimensions they used didn’t even cover the name of our creations just our logo.
A screenshot of the business that was using our images. You can clearly see that they used a screen shot of our product and just photo shopped their logo onto our tub. They even left the title "Unicorn Dreams" showing.
What's even more frustrating is that they used an image of our Fluffy Crunch colourful gift boxes to illustrate their “new packaging” and mentioned they were launching an advent calendar. What a joke!
Looking at this from a customer’s perspective, it made us so angry to imagine how a business could mislead their customers with false advertising. We were shocked and started fuming.
A screen grab recording by Mrs Crunch investigating the Instagram account of the business that was repurposing our images, products and collateral material.
We decided to reach out to our lawyer and sent them an email for some advice and guidance. We had used the team at Legal Vision to register our business name Fluffy Crunch® and trademark the phrase Flurrito®, but unfortunately it was late and we wouldn't get any assistance until the morning. Mrs Crunch was losing it...we were blocked by the business on Instagram and Facebook couldn’t reach out, so the only choice we had was to share our experience with our followers and ask them for help.
If you're interested in learning more about protecting your Intellectual Property check out the free resources that the lawyers at Legal Vision have created.
Before I elaborate on what happened next I also wanted to share with you the challenges we had when we attempted to trademark our business name.
Back in 2017 when we began our application process for the trademark Fluffy Crunch we had Nestle’s legal team reach out and challenge the use of the word “Crunch”. Nestle had established a substantial reputation in its trademark "Crunch" for it's well know chocolate bars and other confectionery brands.
Nestle was prepared to challenge our application if we proceeded under the broad definition of confectionary goods under the class 30. Our only way to resolve the matter was to register a trademark for Fluffy Crunch, specifically for “fairy floss” rather than confectionery in general which would clash with their trademark.
A small technicality but an early business lesson which taught us the importance of protecting your brand.
So, back to the unscrupulous business. Once we had posted a quick screen recording of the dodgy Instagram feed, it was as if our Fluffy Crunch followers had mobilised and gone into battle for us.
We were blown away by the sense of pride and overwhelming support that our Fluffy Crunch tribe had demonstrated. Follower after follower would jump onto the account of the dubious business page and expressed their thoughts and reported the copyright infringements.
Moreover, to see how quickly Instagram and Facebook responded was amazing. We're not sure if it was the social media platforms that removed the posts or the business owner, but one thing is for certain...within minutes our Fluffy Crunch Tribe made a difference to our business and shut down this unprofessional behaviour.
However, despite this unthinkable behaviour, things did get worse. We decided to check out their website and we discovered they were selling “cotton candy” using our product shots, with their photoshopped branding. The available products also included our party favour images. Once the images were taken down from Instagram and Facebook they must have noticed what was happening and they took action and removed all their product images from their website.
Hopefully, you will never have to encounter the dreaded experience of having a business or individual steal one or more of your images or business collateral. If you are blocked or don’t have a tribe of amazing followers to mobilise like we did, Instagram has a process in place to report stolen images.
However, Instagram does advise that before you submit a report of copyright infringement, you attempt to send a message to the person who posted the content. If the matter cannot be resolved instagram has forms you can complete. It’s a simple process but you will need to provide accompanying evidence.
About 9 months ago we had another business in Australia infringe our trademark in relation to our Flurrito®. The business, with all their "entrepreneurial spirt and creativity" used images from our social media account and even used the word Flurrito®. We've all heard the phrase around "imitation being the sincerest form of flattery" but seriously, don't be lazy and just swipe other peoples work as your own.
Now don't get me wrong...we didn't invent the fairy floss ice-cream burrito but we were the first to bring it to Australia and showcase it as the Flurrito® back in 2018.
In 2018 we introduced the Flurrito® to Sydney-siders at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. We were even featured in the Insider Eat Street Section of the Sunday Telegraph.
Mrs Crunch and her road to fame. She didn't want to be the centre of attention but the image turned out OK.
View this post on Instagram
@fluffycrunch will be selling their famous #flurrito at our Sweet Indulgence Dessert Festival. The flurrito is a fairy floss ice cream burrito! 🤤 On Thursday 24 May at 4 pm - 9 pm, Village Green, Flushcombe Road, Blacktown. #dessertfestival #Blacktownfestival #Blacktowneats
The day we had the pleasure of meeting 'Fast' Ed Halmagyi at the Sydney Royal Show when we were featured in Better Homes and Gardens...but we'll show you the full clip in another blog post.
So, if you're wondering how to report the online theft or copyright infringement on Instagram go to the "Settings" sections of your Instagram account, click on the “Help” section and then click on the “Report a Problem” section and follow the prompts.
Alternatively, click on the link to file an intellectual property theft claim with Instagram if you believe an image violates or infringes on your copyright.
You’ll also need to provide some personal contact information and evidence or a link to the original image.
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