Crowdfunding sites make copying products easier

Whether it's social media, crowdfunding, or the internet in general, copying someone else's idea has become the norm.

Peter Shankman, a digital marketing consultant, says that the internet has made copying someone else's idea "a billion times easier."

Khierstyn Ross is an e-commerce specialist who helps innovators launch their products and brands on crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter. She said the Fidget Cube is the classic example of an idea that got hijacked. It raised more than $6 million on Kickstarter.

The problem is that the fundraising success caught someone's eye. With the help of manufacturers in China, that someone copied the idea and got it to market before the Fidget Cube.

Another example is the selfie stick called Stikbox. Less than a month after the Stikbox appeared on Kickstarter, vendors in China cloned the idea and were selling it.

Shankman said companies exists that are devoted to watching for product ideas online, sourcing them cheaply in Asia, and quickly bringing them to market.

Shankman said even social media companies copy each other. Snapchat premiered the stories format. Facebook copied the idea, modified it slightly, and put it on Instagram, which Facebook owns.

The old adage that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" is in full swing.