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