The owner of a stationery company in Windsor, N.S., says some online stores have been stealing her product designs and selling them without her permission.
Cassy Collins runs Classy Cards Creative, which sells greeting cards, calendars and other products with cheeky and not-so-appropriate phrases on them.
She said her 2024 calendars have been duplicated on at least four different websites that are seemingly based in China, and large online retailers like eBay, Etsy and Amazon.
Collins said Amazon alone has about 170 listings for her calendars.
“It’s really frustrating, especially this time of year for our calendars — one of our top-selling products getting into the new year and holiday season and everything,” Collins told CBC Radio’s Maritime Noon on Tuesday.
“So to see a company or multiple companies rip off our designs and try to sell it as their own is just really hard to hear as a small business.”
Collins started Classy Cards Creative nine years ago and it has gained popularity in the last two years.
She said she heard about her work being duplicated a few weeks ago when customers reached out after seeing ads for her products from other websites on social media.
She later learned that the websites had stolen images from her website and were using her TikTok videos for advertising.
Collins said she believes they’re stealing her print files, adjusting them slightly, printing their own and then using their own images to sell the nearly identical products.
“I don’t have print files online but they’re taking my images and then recreating them so that’s the annoying part,” she said.
She said some customers actually bought some of the calendars off the websites without realizing she wasn’t associated with the sales.
Collins said her products aren’t trademarked, but they are considered intellectual property. She said she may need to start adding watermarks to her photos online to protect them from being stolen.
She said she did contact a lawyer who said not much can be done because the companies are based in China, and contacting them has proven difficult.
“If it was a large corporation or company that we could contact, they say it would be easy,” she said. “But in this situation it’s not really, so I’m just relying on companies that have them up for sale, like Amazon, to take them down.”
Collins said she has contacted the websites directly, and some have started taking the items down.
When she contacted Etsy and eBay, both sites removed the items, she said.
Maritime Noon53:03A graphic artist who runs a business out of her home near Windsor, NS, tells us about her work being duplicated and sold by online retailers. And on the phone-in: Photographer Len Wagg explains the art of photo-taking.
But Amazon has not responded to her requests, she said. She said she contacted the online retailer twice through its copyright trademark patent policies form.
CBC News has also contacted Amazon about Collins’s products being duplicated, and a spokesperson asked if she had filled out the copyright form.
They did not say whether or not the listings would be removed.
“I guess the more exposure you have, the more chance you have of being, I guess, attacked by companies that just want to rip you off,” Collins said.