As of late, marketing and media "buzz" is everything and often the reason a client may hire a planner. We work hard to be individuals, and it's very disheartening to see other companies try to take established and documented ideas and claim them as their own. The Internet can be a very positive, but dangerous tool also. It is such a great opportunity for learning, but at the same time, it can hinder the level of creativity and create cause for "copy cats". Legally, it has become such a hot topic since a planner's ideas and work can not be protected.
So, where do we go from here? Copyright or trademarking is always a good tool but if it's a smaller event, the endless paperwork and fees are not always worth the protection. Ideas should be shared, but when it applies to your competition, it allows an unfair advantage in the RFP (Request For Proposal) process and can create a smoke and mirror effect to which the client will learn of their hoax AFTER the event.
Hind sight is always 20/20 but that's the last quote you want to give your clients. You can only hope that they truly do the research in sourcing an event planning company and contact your referrals. Word of mouth and past experiences can be the best credibility. Although imitation is the best form of flattery, that hinder you from obtaining the business.