My day looked to end on a bit of a sour note, when a very kind reader of mine let me know that she’d found the website of an Argentinian company selling some of my designs as their own. Bit of a shocker, right?

 

I felt I needed to calm down a bit before I emailed the IP thieves, so I Tweeted about it, linking through to the site in question. I immediately received responses from people, outraged on my behalf, and soon enough I had a big smile on my face. So much outrage, so much support, so much kind feeling and offers of advice came pouring through that the blatant copying felt quite insignificant in a way. Thanks to everyone who offered their support and encouragement (and cursed them on my behalf too).

I eventually sent a stern email, and the next time I went back to their Facebook page and website, I saw that all the images containing my Cloudbirds design had been removed. Later a half-apologetic, half-justifying email came through from the company, saying the following about the Cloudbirds copy:

“ we made that pattern inspired in drawings that we found on the internet, but we never know that it was a pattern that you designed. We only search a lot of images of birds and unfortunately we did a very similar pattern.”

Astonishingly similar, right? They go on:

“Regarding the Duikers pattern, that you may think is similar, we would like to explain that we designed that one, based on our dog called TOCCA, who has big big ears!”

How coincidental that having ‘mistakenly’ copied my Cloudbirds, they also stumbled upon my Duikers concept while drawing their big eared (and cloven hoofed?) dog. I think they must think I’m a bit thick.

I’m not naming the company here (although links can be found in my Twitter feed), as they did take quick remedial action and sent some kind of apology, although I am not sure they really understand what they did wrong. They seem to think that it’s ok to use images found on the internet for themselves (until they get caught), and they seem to think that taking a concept and just turning it in a slightly different direction counts as an original design. But, um, duh, it’s not. It’s stealing.

Anyway, enough outrage from me. What I’m taking away from this is a massive appreciation for the immense support and kindness and vigilance shown to me by readers of this blog and of my Twitter feed. You guys are the BEST. And the lazy, greedy, ignorant designers who steal other peoples’ designs had better watch out for you!

PS: I came across some interesting sites that can help designers deal to some extent with IP thievery, thanks to yesterday’s Tweeting deluge. See:

YouThoughtWeWouldntNotice.com - a blog where you can post evidence and links of IP theft

MyOws.com - a free online copyright protection site

22 comments:

  1. I didn’t see the cloudbirds yesterday, but it’s such a direct copy, it’s just astonishing. As for Duikers they need to get that dog to a vetinary! Hurray for the power of Twitter xx

  2. Hey Heather, that is just… just… unbelievable! Why do they do that? The fun of creating your own is just all that it is about… I think you made it clear what your opinion is, well done!

  3. it would be great if you could also get them to stop selling the copies and pay you royalties on those they already have sold.

  4. Its outrageous that they were copying your work – but it can be seen as very flattering too – annoying none-the-less… at least they did comply by pulling down their images. Unfortunately international copyright laws are difficult to enforce.

  5. I am so glad it was resolved and that you ended up with a good feeling in the end. It is always amazing to me that folks can sleep at night when they are not making an honest living. * Still chuckling from the first comment above- they need to get that dog to a vet… ha ha! :)
    xo
    Melis

  6. I’m so sorry that happened to you! Thankfully you are so well known and your designs are so distinctive that you have thousands of customers, friends and followers on the internet looking out for you!

  7. are the raindrops yours, too? I know I’ve seen that exact pattern before, but I can’t put a finger on it. Their excuses are 100% lame.

    • I agree! That pattern looks awfully familiar to me too. Probably “inspired” :) Thanks for all your supportive tweets and wotnot. Much appreciated. xx

  8. Hello Heather – what a way to end the day but jolly well done to you for being so clever and artful in the manner you went about handling it. It has just once again proved to me what powerful tool twitter is.

    We came across a blog post recently in which the blogger had almost word for word used the content of one of my posts, without any form of credit at all.

    I left it at that stage but decided to keep an eye on her blog to see if it happens again. But next time I find this – I will definitely learn from you and go the twitter route.

  9. Shocking but not surprising, no? This happens all too often. You handled it with grace. And while they probably don’t understand what they did wrong (otherwise they wouldn’t have done it in the first place) at the very least they took your work off of their site.

  10. That’s so OUTRAGEOUS! I’m aware of an ongoing dispute between two mid-century modern inspired illustrators both selling on Etsy – their work is SO similar but both claim that their designs existed first – they’re at a stalemate!

  11. I don’t know how they can just make lame excuses like that. Actually, they’ve admitted to stealing an image from the internet. Admittedly one can be inspired by another’s work, but blatant copying is inexcusable.
    Oh and? Good for you that you found the positive side to the debacle!!

  12. I’m outraged on your behalf, Heather! they have simply lifted and copied absolutely everything about your beautiful designs. The one thing they have going for them is their immaculate taste ;-)

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