Not one to sit by and allow bigwigs (or half-assed indies for that matter) to threaten or undermine the endeavours of genuinely hard-working indie business owners and creative practioners, Leona published a fantastic blog on her LLROK Journal site lifting the lid on just how careful designer-makers need to be when trying to protect their designs. Leona gives a troubling insight into just how common design theft is but balances the doom and gloom with a set of very helpful tips on how to help yourself and take appropriate and effective action should you find yourself in a legal pickle over intellectual property and copyright.
Leona has granted us permission to reproduce her top tips on our blog. Specially aimed at indie designer-makers, these pointers could go some way to making sure your work is not ripped off by lazybums with loose ethics.
What are you to do when, as an independent designer-maker, some ass-munch steals your work?
Over to you, Leona!
"As a true independent we deal with the situation ourselves by doing the following…
1. The minute we find out about a copy we start gathering evidence. If it's being sold online take a screengrab of the whole page. If it's being sold in a bricks and mortar store (in the UK!) go and buy one, keep receipt & packaging.
2. Before going public or contacting the company show/e-mail a link to friends and family to gather some honest feedback. It's easy to feel you have been copied when in reality, sometimes it's just that people have similar ideas at similar times. Other times it's obvious to everyone who looks at it that your original work was more than just 'inspiration' to someone else, and that they've copied you.
3. Contact the buyer/designer of the company with a friendly first e-mail/letter (remember they *might* be unaware this is a copy). I prefer to keep everything in writing, in case I need to prove what has been communicated later on. It's easy to forget what you've said over the phone. Cease & Desist letters can come later if they don't co-operate. Provide them with evidence that this is our design, we also include blog entries and press articles which are good quick visual way to date when we launched the design. Request they remove the article from sale immediately and either send the remaining stock to us to destroy or allow them to do it.
4. Compensation? In my experience this is just not a reality, although maybe I should pursue this part more... after all they have saved themselves the time we spent designing and prototyping it, profited from our design, possibly lost us sales, and cheated our valued customers who come to us for unique, well-made jewellery. If you're a designer/illustrator who's successfully managed this part please tell us your story.
5. From now on I will blog 'n' tweet 'n' tell all. Everyone has a right to know that these things happen and customers might feel they no longer want to buy from or support those companies who repeatedly rip off the creative inspiration of others.
6. Have a cup of tea and get over it! It is genuinely hurtful when you first see something you remember doodling on a scrap of paper, drawing and re-drawing until it's just right, excitedly sampling and testing and finally launching to your customers being copied, made badly and sold at half the price you could afford to make it for. Apart from anything else, it's heartbreaking that some people might actually think these shoddy copies were created by me! The people who do this are selfish, lazy and greedy - phew - it makes me so angry, but I have to calm down... As a small business we don't have the resources or money to get involved in time-consuming legal actions and are too busy to feel sorry for ourselves. Instead, we HAD to put our energy into fresh ideas and invent jewellery that was harder to copy. Sadly, one of the reasons we stopped making enamels was that they kept being copied - but it did result in us developing several new handmade techniques, such as printing onto wood and applying glitter to acrylic."
(from Lady Luck Rules OK Journal)
So ther you have it. What a sad and sorry tale. We trust that y'all will support Lady Luck Rules OK and other independent designers who have had similar experiences by refusing to spend your hard-earned cash on shoddy copies of uncredited design work. Support your indie makers, people!
You can read Leona's article in its entirety here.