From My Desk to Yours – 10th Edition

By: Penny, EzineArticles Managing Editor

Today, I’d like to share with you a brief guide to avoiding False Designation of Origin – a.k.a. Earning the respect of your readers, building your brand identity and taking pride in your product.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? You’ve created a certain product or service that you’re now trying to market to the world and you’re determined to see it through to a successful end. Unfortunately, you face the daunting challenge of having an unknown brand, a task that can seem insurmountable in today’s crowded, cut-throat market. With only a fraction of the money and manpower as your more established competitors, you find it can be very disheartening trying to make a name for yourself and your product.

Unfortunately this challenge leads to some authors “piggybacking” on the success of other brands in order to bring awareness to their product or service. There is a term that exists within the article marketing industry that describes this unethical tactic and it’s referred to as False Designation of Origin, or more simply “bait and switch.” False Designation of Origin occurs when an author willfully infringes on someone else’s branding and name recognition to promote their own equivalent product or service.

In other words, the author will discuss a well-known product or brand within their article to capture the attention of readers only to inevitably “switch” and lead them to the lesser-known product in which they are promoting or benefit from.

For example, authors Bob and Ned write an article on how America loves Oreo cookies and proclaim them to be the most delicious cookie available today only to end with a resource box that reads as follows: “If you love Oreos, you’ll really love Bob n’ Ned’s Delectable Milk Dunkers. The same great taste as Oreos without the hefty price tag. Visit us today.”

You may not know it, but bait and switch is in fact a form of fraud, and our editors here are constantly on the lookout for authors practicing this disreputable form of article marketing. The practice of False Designation of Origin will always completely backfire, leaving the reader with the impression that your product is shady and cannot be trusted.

So instead of writing about the success of Oreos to lure people in, Bob and Ned should have instead focused on building their own brand identity and spread the word about Bob n’ Ned’s Dectable Milk Dunkers. They need to write respectable, well-written content that informs the reader of the world’s need for delicious, affordable cookies. They should also conduct a little research and target people who can specifically benefit from their product the most and write with them in mind.

When you interest the readers enough and earn their respect as both authors and business proprietors, they will listen to what you have to say. It’s a challenging feat to create brand recognition for yourself, something that takes plenty of hard work and dedication. Luckily, a great place to start is with your article marketing campaign.

Bottom Line: Take pride in your product, focus on building your brand identity and remember, the best route to take when doing anything is the honest, admirable route. The pay off is always far greater.


terryweber writes:

“To be honest with you..” is a phrase that raises a red flag in my heart! It always makes me wonder: Was what the person said before dishonest? Has he now decided to level with me and tell me the truth? I doubt it. His first words about “honesty” have simply turned me off – forever! When you are honest, you are honest. No “gray”area, no shading.

Comment provided March 22, 2010 at 11:08 AM


I agree with you Terry! “To Be Honest With You” should be a forbidden phrase used in verbal communication… as it accomplishes a mission exactly opposite of its intended influence.


Brook writes:

To be honest with you, I tend to disagree. It seems a controversial point to say that this phrase indicates past dishonesty as it used as a leading statement in many conversations. I would say that it is primarily a point of correct education in communicating.


Beverly Boisen writes:

Oh yes, it has happened to me.
An other company stole my article on “How to Drink 8 Glasses of water a Day.”
I confronted them and got nowhere.
Bugs me when people take advantage of us authors.
Of course they stole my article from :{

Comment provided March 22, 2010 at 11:20 AM


Chris McCorry writes:


My comment is more general in nature, but your informative article re-sparked the thought:

I just want to say that I am now a fan of The day I submitted my article I was responding to a cue from my website manager.

After loading the article, I began to peruse other sites where articles I write as a staff writer to two websites could gain exposure.

The next day I received some wonderful LEGITIMATE writing tips from EzineArticles, and a couple days later, more information that helped me discern the type of market I am entering – (internet posting not having been part of my normal course of action).

Today, you speak about the tactics many writers use to market their products…unfortunately, because they are commonly used, a lot of people believe they are acceptable.

I just want to thank you for being who you are as an article-posting-site and writer-support-group AND for maintaining the standards so many of us do not want to see trampled on.

I’ll look forward to your next article, and your next…


Comment provided March 22, 2010 at 11:56 AM



I never consider such behavior. As they say it takes all kinds to make the world.

As to the let’s be honest, I have used it to call attention to something. I respectfully disagree about the use of this statement being counter productive. If that happens, it probably has more to do with the observed behaviors of the person making the statement. However as Marc points out, one could substitute the word “frank.”

What we all need to remember is not to use a broad paint brush in these discussions.

Comment provided March 22, 2010 at 12:36 PM


Anthony Allen writes:

The “bait n switch” game has been around for many years and there will always be unethical people continuing to use it. In the end, what comes around goes around. Practicing good moral ethics in your business practices will lead to success.

Comment provided March 22, 2010 at 12:37 PM



Having been in business for many years, I always was completely “honest” in all my dealings with both employees and business associates. Unfortunatley, not everyone operates that way and for those of us that do, it makes doing business even harder, because there’s a level of disrust with the consumer. If only everyone had the same ideals.

Comment provided March 22, 2010 at 12:54 PM


Andrew Peel writes:

I will watch this unfold with interest. There is a world of difference to referring to say a book and interpreting the lessons you have learned and as you say ‘bait and switch’. The ones I see most often on Ezine are XXX is it a scam? Then they appear to impartially discuss the product yet subtly run it down. Then say wan to find out more about XXX? in the resource box and the link is to a sales page extolling the virtues of XXX. That renders their supposedly impartial review somehow tainted.

I think something like ‘XXX an insiders first impressions’ is a far more transparent and honest headline.

Comment provided March 22, 2010 at 1:07 PM


terryweber writes:

I wrote an article one time about the word: “sincere” because that
word is mentioned many times in the Bible and people I talked with
about the word had a lot of different ideas of what was meant by
“sincere”. As we know, “candor and frank or frankness have a lot to do
with being sincere. (I’ll try to keep this short):

Thousands of years ago potters, when making pots, would accidentally
break or crack some of them during manufacture. When that happened,
they would fill the cracks with wax which was then covered over and
hidden somehow. So, when they sold their perfect jars they would call
them: “sincerea” pots, meaning they were without wax.The pots with wax
held water, but, today, we would call them “factory seconds or
imperfect.” So, all sincerea pots were perfect and top quality and
had no hidden cracks.

Today, we use the words: honesty and sincerely and candor and
frankness interchangeably as ways of reassuring our listeners
(readers) that what we say is: “without wax.”

Comment provided March 22, 2010 at 1:21 PM


Glenn writes:

Penny, great advice especially like your idea about building your own brand. Also enjoying the various comments…

Thanks, Glenn

Comment provided March 22, 2010 at 2:06 PM


Rafael Marquez writes:

Bait and switch is one thing, and plagiarism is another. B/S is something that I do and I can control, but how do I fix the donkey holes that steal my content and pretend it’s theirs?

Maybe this isn’t the best place for this question, so if there’s another place where I should submit it, I’d be glad to submit it there. Thanks!

Comment provided March 22, 2010 at 3:20 PM


kenneth writes:

great advice, penny, your piece warning against ‘baiting and switching’. a lot better to spend those time working on one’s own brand. after all, the great brands of today started small someday in the past.

Comment provided March 22, 2010 at 3:25 PM


Andrew Peel writes:

Anyone steals comment from me here’s what I do. I visit the site and I post a comment under the content and I thank them for being a fan of my content.

I add that I would them to amend the content and add a working link to my Blog attributing me as the author.

Success rate – 80%. The advantage to this is most content stealers lack the techical skills to delete your comment quickly enough so you get more traffic.

Comment provided March 22, 2010 at 4:25 PM


Davy Jones writes:

If your editors filter out articles that contain ‘fraudlent’ content, why should EzineArticles issue a warning?
What are you afraid of?
Instead of producing diatribes against a meaningless ‘problem’, why don’t you put your time and energy into developing a rating system so authors will know whether it’s even worth their time to produce free articles for you?
Come on, EzineArticles, you’ve got the best of both worlds: free labor from authors who work hard to provide content that you leverage into advertising revenue . . . and what do authors get in return?
The ‘opportunity’ to market their products through EzineArticles?
Okay . . . but what does that mean, really?
Tell us how many thousands or hundreds of thousands or millions of people go to EzineArticles, read articles and as a consequence, buy authors’ products or services?
Can you or will you or can’t you or won’t you tell us?
Why or why not?

Thanks for listening,

Davy Jones

Comment provided March 22, 2010 at 5:48 PM


Hi Davy,

If it were a meaningless problem, we wouldn’t have to address it. Truth is, many newbie members think they can infringe on the brands of others…and Penny is trying to help them see why this is wrong and won’t be accepted.

We’re not here to sell you sales Davy. We’re here to deliver you high value traffic back to your website.

EzineArticles is a high-traffic LEAD generation machine. Once the visitors come to your website, it’s up to you to CONVERT them into paying customers. That is your job.

On a daily basis, we deliver 175,000 to 235,000 visitors to our members websites. This is our job.

Our target is to be your highest non-search engine referrer of high-value targeted traffic. That is our mission.

You write & submit high quality unique original articles and we deliver pre-qualified traffic back to your website.


Donald Yerke writes:

Good article Penny: You wrote an article that really had content and not just fluff. A lot of good truth was included, but I do not agree with those who want to get even. I just tell myself that when when someone “steals my content”, then I must be a good tutor.

Marc: I hope you are neither a writer or speaker. ANYONE who says “to be honest” or “to be frank” is often a liar telling you they need you to believe them, or that they do not know much about the subject.
Honesty, Confidence, Determination, & Values rule.

Comment provided March 22, 2010 at 7:08 PM


Ian Faulkner writes:

B&S is frustrating but even more so when the product to which the “victim” is being switched is inferior or even substandard. Unfortunately the genuine product can sometimes be “tainted” by the incorrect association. The company with which I am associated is now taking legal action against people using their trade marked name “[NAME REMOVED BY MODERATOR]” to minimise the problem they are experiencing.

Comment provided March 22, 2010 at 8:18 PM


Kitty Jellinek writes:

Well done Penny.

False Designation of Origin is an annoying practice.
It also carries repercussions for the owner of the brand being falsely represented.

I don’t consider my brand that well known yet [been working hard at it though] – but already had some inquiries from people who have read articles with my brand mentioned.

Those people were complaining about a product they purchased that I have absolutely no connection with. However my brand had been used within the sales pitch so many times [as a comparison product] that the purchaser believed they had purchased the product from me.

It took a lot of emailing back and forth before the purchaser realized how they’d been mislead.

I ended up giving my product to the purchaser of the imitation product – as they could not contact the seller of the pseudo product to get a refund.

I am happy to hear that at EzineArticles false designation of origin is curtailed at the outset.



Comment provided March 23, 2010 at 7:04 AM


Lance Winslow writes:

This was in the news today:

And it seems like this is a huge topic in the US and EU. Luxury Brands feel as if they are getting raped by wouldbe online marketers using their goodwill to “trick” consumers (bait and switching) them into clicking and being re-directed to competing websites, sometimes even counterfeit product sites – Ouch!

Comment provided March 23, 2010 at 5:06 PM


Donald E Yerke writes:

Bait and switch has been around as long as there has been a donkey. As in donkey chasing a carrot in front of them. I made my money by taking what most people think and hit them with the complete opposite.

You place the blame on the retailer, I say blame is on the person naive to think the grass is greener. They are the sheep and dreamers in a world of predators. Complainers are often among the sheep. I am a mind with a body, so I think before acting.

If no one fell for bait & switch, all sales would stop. Since Biblical days it has been used. EzineArticles is guilty. You want quality, nitpick/rape a great 800 word article and let a spun (bait & switch) 300 words of slop go through to pump up your overall status. Even with that error you are the best in the field.

So when another big name does it, do not start throwing stones back. Marc, quit taking things personally unless you have a guilt complex about your writing and speaking qualifications.

The big companies employ more bait and switch than the little ones trying to work their way up.

Comment provided March 23, 2010 at 6:32 PM


Judy Adler writes:

I would like some clarification. Suppose I were to write a positive, thoughtful review of a book, for example, Resurrection, by Nevile Goddard, discussing his Mind Science teachings and noting that Rev. Ike was influenced by Nevile Goddard and that this was one of his favorite books, and then in the resource box, I direct the reader to Rev. Ike’s website to request Rev. Ike’s free Mind Science e-book, Is this considered False Designation of Origin, or ‘bait and switch’?

Comment provided March 23, 2010 at 6:56 PM


Russ writes:

Seems like an obscure topic.
obscure (unimportant or unknown)

Comment provided March 23, 2010 at 9:01 PM


Russ writes:

I guess I did learn how to piggy back off the success of others, thanks for that!

ha ha sorry I just couldn’t resist that.

Comment provided March 24, 2010 at 12:28 PM


Christina writes:

Hi Penny,

I’m new to the world of article/marketing writing and found your info on False Designation of Origin or bait n switch quite an eye opener. One question though; how do you know when someone has taken your article and made it their own. How do you track this ? Christina.

Comment provided March 25, 2010 at 7:43 PM


I would suggest possibly using Google Alerts to help identify this for you:

Or using the advanced search option:

Here you can perform exact wording searches.


Donald E Yerke writes:

Christina: You bring up the point on checking if someone uses info almost identical to your article.

Why not be more concerned about your website? Use Firefox as a browser, get the FOXY SEO Tool, with 100 brilliant features free. With Foxy choose options and go to Copyspace. Bet yet convince Chris Knight to allow this free emblem on articles. 95% of info thieves would pass you by.

What is plagiarism? 25%, 50%, or 70%. Google will recognize the original article and not credit the rest. Use free Copyspace to provide the answer.

I am platinum writer, (over 300 articles) that takes up to 3 hours to write a riveting and compelling new article where the reader actually learns something. What are you writing that makes you so concerned? I take it as a compliment of superior writing, so I congratulate you.

As an experienced writer, I could take ANY article on the internet, including yours, rewrite in my style and make it 70% to 85% “unique” by Copyspace standards. 45 minutes later I could take this new article and do likewise. But that is for the lazy not the creative.

Checking closely on the web ranking site Alexa, it tells me who is “stealing or closely modifying my article.” 75% give me credit, 25% do not. However, I have blogs constantly picking up my articles, increasing attention and results copywriter abilities.

Take the number of articles that EzineArticles has and multiply that by 50 or 100, since blogging has become so popular. If you show excellence, others take your info or imitate you.

I would be very concerned if imitators were not using my article as a base. It is not an evil but a mark of enviable writing abilities.

Keep writing quality, over quantity. With blogging, Daily multiple sources get me hourly attention and even magazines check my material. This year I will be submitting another 300 articles to EzineArticles.

Ask Chris Knight to write about vertical marketing, as this will show you how quality material flows.

Instead of trying to draw blood, take that time to write some bloody good articles that scream for attention. EzineArticles has great info on headlines and keywords, just combine this with unique writing.

At least your dog will not be giving you dirty looks while you are writing. Never be as mad as a cut cobra snake. Quality is the silent killer.

Instead make your articles blast out like fireworks launched from a rocket launcher.

Comment provided March 26, 2010 at 10:48 AM


michael jordan writes:

well this happens not only in online but also in offline businesses as well. When some one creates a brand then others try to copy it. This has no end i guess but it is always better to be unique in all.

I strongly abide the bottom line by you and that is how an approach should be but the pay may be later than normal.

Comment provided March 28, 2010 at 1:02 PM


christian izeh writes:

I understand, that it takes passion and strong convintion about a product to systematically market a given brand with powerful persuasive words, and yet be totally truthful in ones phrases. I appreciate the fact that false presentation will always backfire.

Comment provided April 1, 2010 at 12:24 PM


nightlife writes:

As an experienced writer, I could take ANY article on the internet, including yours, rewrite in my style and make it 70% to 85% “unique” by Copyspace standards. 45 minutes later I could take this new article and do likewise. But that is for the lazy not the creative.I would like some clarification. Suppose I were to write a positive, thoughtful review of a book, for example, Resurrection, by Nevile Goddard, discussing his Mind Science teachings and noting that Rev. Ike was influenced by Nevile Goddard and that this was one of his favorite books, and then in the resource box, I direct the reader to Rev. Ike’s website to request Rev. Ike’s free Mind Science e-book, Is this considered False Designation of Origin, or ‘bait and switch’?I don’t consider my brand that well known yet [been working hard at it though] – but already had some inquiries from people who have read articles with my brand mentioned

Comment provided April 5, 2010 at 3:02 AM


Book reviews provide value if done right. A true book review contains a brief synopsis, topic review, opinions, your take-aways, and how it relates to your niche. As you can see, a book review is more than just a summary of the book and it would not fall under the false designation of origin if done properly.


jon bone writes:

I never knew about bait and switch as a marketing ploy. I think it better to find other ways of marketing your self

Comment provided October 20, 2010 at 8:12 AM


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