Everything can be copied and every day it is getting easier to do so. If you make a hit game in the App Store then someone, somewhere will make a clone mere days or weeks after. But this phenomenon – and really, compared to the world of 100 years ago the speed of copying really is like magic – is not only affecting the digital world. Through both cheap labor and 3D printing it is getting easier to copy physical products.

Of course copying isn’t new. Society has protections in place to protect against it like patents, trademarks, and copyrights. But many things can’t use these protections, like a hit game that combines simple elements in a new way or a permanent LED lighting system that uses new technology. Also, these protections don’t cross borders well so a copyright in the US doesn’t help protect against a copier in Norway.

For these situations I see two ways to protect yourself:

1) Build a system that is difficult to copy and in which all the components work together, or 2) Build a brand that is trusted and valued beyond the obvious and superficial features which are easily copied.

There is a third way to protect yourself, the primary one we are building our business on, but it doesn’t scale well. That third way is to make the business about personal relationships. When you work with us you get to work with us and no one else can be us. This means we bring as much of our personalities into the business as possible rather than creating a bland, liked-by-everyone big corporate brand. Our personalities are our protection. But this doesn’t scale well because we can only do so much in a day and past that we have to turn down work.