I guess this is more of a "comfort seeking" question than legality one.

You see, for the past couple of months I have been brainstorming and developing a product, all by myself. I was planning to release it under some kind of free license. While I know no idea is ever a unique one, I was quite happy to note that the way I had visualized my software, in its form and purpose, was one of its kind, albeit bits and pieces resembling others. That private project was quite cherished one.

Now I find there is a product, at least a decade old, that is so close to mine that mine looks plagiarized. While with the rest of them I had a 8:2 in my favor, feature wise, with this product it seems transposed, including the philosophy. I admit I can vaguely recall hearing the name of it but never thought of reading about it - the name didn't seem to invoke interest etc - until now. I read about it and now I am distraught and agonized.

There is no risk of any legal action as that software is in "free" domain and mine is still a private project, and I don't know if it will be ever make any money from any buyer which will then lead to trouble, but that is not the point of the question.

The point is how to stay focused and enthusiastic as before? I have about a month of work pending, mainly programming and complete testing, and this has completely left me drained. I am in a fetal position. I am telling myself about Newton-Leibniz, Faraday-Henry kind of independent activities with similar to same results but that isn't helping. I don't want this to spill over to my regular life and work life.

I can sense two issues that are pricking me. (1) I wanted praise for my creativity. (2) I was harboring a small desire of a possible chance of making good money by attracting a buyer.

This might be a casual and almost an inconsequential problem for the citizens of the business world, but I am from a different world.


  • Which one of these is your question? What do you want us to say?
    – Mr Lister
    Feb 2, 2013 at 8:17
  • 2
    The lines ending with a question mark are the questions and there are just two of them, one each in the title and the body.
    – vin
    Feb 2, 2013 at 8:27
  • 3
    If even you would have known about the other product beforehand - what is so bad about it to rebuild an existing program a second time, probably better? Microsoft did it several times, popular games were implemented dozens of times, and there are several other examples in the business world of competing products looking often very similar.
    – Doc Brown
    Feb 2, 2013 at 12:19
  • @DocBrown I understand how businesses work, heck the products of my company have about 10 competitors! Had I known of it before, I wouldn't started, leave alone come this far to the last quarter of the project. The problem is after enough searching I had convinced myself that this is "one of its kind" and consumed by it. The thing that's most problematic is I'd have to for ever defend taunts and claims of copying, which is completely false. I am feeling like all my efforts will be made to look worthless.
    – vin
    Feb 2, 2013 at 12:33
  • Remember always that if there is someone else in your market then it is a good market because it warrants competition.
    – Gary
    Feb 2, 2013 at 17:11

3 Answers 3


I would say, stop coding, stop testing and take a couple of days or weeks of and try to find a way to enhance and expand your product feature-wise and do it in such a way that it sets it apart from the other product. You may be able to think up some radical changes you hadn't thought of before.

  • Yes, this seems like the only solution but the funny thing is although I know it and probably would have advised the same to others, I am finding it is easier said than done (not being a jerk here). :-)
    – vin
    Feb 2, 2013 at 12:38

Is the other project "open source"? If so, you can join that community and improve it. If not, you can make yours open source and try to attract similar minded people.

As you can tell I am not from the business world either.

  • No, the other one isn't open source. I was in fact hoping to get a community built around mine but the current frame of mind seems insurmountable.
    – vin
    Feb 2, 2013 at 12:35

If you love this thing you've built, there's no reason to stop now. Nothing has changed. It was never unique - almost nothing in the software world has been, for many years.

Do you have any idea how many Free/Open Source Software web servers have been written? With almost no exceptions, they were all written while Apache was the feature-dominant product with the largest install base. Many of them are well-loved by their users and have enjoyed long lives. Do their authors care that they are not unique, or that they are matched or over-matched, feature for feature? Heck no, each of them has a raison d'être that is not "crowd Apache into a tiny, little corner of the market", and they focus on that, not on killing Apache.

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