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Derek Kimball

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17 comments
  • DesignBuddy

    Yeah, unfortunately way too often. I remember seeing a post by designer Jeff Fisher awhile back, where he found multiple logo ripoffs just from his portfolio alone.

  • MSI

    There are a lot of creative minds out here who once in awhile have ideas that are similar, if not exactly the same as others. Could have been something they saw somewhere but who knows where. A lot of design happens just by accident. You can’t always blame the designer, nor can you claim it was plagiarism. We don’t always design in a vacuum. Yes there are unscrupulous people out there that find it easier to copy someone else’s work, but it’s not always the case. Be certain you can prove it exactly that someone stole your work, be careful.

  • DesignBuddy

    Thanks for the comment MSI. You are right, sometimes our subconscious remembers things we’ve seen that we don’t consciously remember. This happens to me when I play guitar. I’ll be trying to come up with notes for a riff or something, and next thing I know playing the melody from a song in my memory banks. Completely unintentional.

    Thanks again for the comment. I added your statement to the post. I think you bring up an important argument.

  • Cory Maylett

    Given the many tens of thousands of logos in the world, coincidental similarities are inevitable. Even so, most, if not all, the logos pointed out on the site as being plagiarized were likely plagiarized. But what if the site grows to a hundred examples or a thousand? What will be the chances of at least two similar logos being simple coincidences?

    The LogoThief website comes right out and makes declarative statements about thievery and plagiarism, then points fingers at those it’s found guilty. Again, the accusations are likely right, but what about when they’re wrong? The last I checked, a written public accusation of thievery without proof pretty much amounts to libel.

    Plagiarism is a serious thing, but so are public accusations that amount to character defamation. My best guess is that the owner is gambling that he won’t be sued. I sure wouldn’t be willing to make that bet.

  • Ryan Cote

    With a variety of similar logos and content on the web, it can be tough to pinpoint plagiarism. But nobody should steal another person’s creative work and it is important to try to protect what you do.

  • DesignBuddy

    Agreed Ryan…when I see a logo that is simple in design being mimicked; it’s much easier to dismiss as accidental. It’s the copycats of more intricate logos that wreak of undeniable plagiarism to me.

    You mention “protecting what you do”. Other than perusing the logo sites, do you have any specific tips for that? Thanks for the comment.

    @Bennet…sometimes there probably is no way to tell, but there are web archives available online that allow you to see cached version of websites dating back many years. This can be helpful in determining who first used a logo.

  • Rafael Macho

    Cheap designers make cheap logos. I remember while teaching at UCLA when some student who would just open a book and copy literally what was inside. I explained to them that it wasn’t right and surprisingly some of them they were surprised. I guess it starts at design schools. Maybe we should do a better job at explaining the difference between inspiration and copying?

  • Ricardo

    First, we all have to agree and accept that with the advent of the web there was going to be a lot of exposure. That’s a good thing because ‘inspiration’ can be found anywhere. True being inspired is different than blatantly lifting artwork and plopping it down in your ‘own’ work. Frankly, the few (maybe growing) instances of plagiarism, IMO, is an acceptable blemish on the face of increased exposure. You have to take the good with the bad.

    Secondly, what does it matter really? I’ve been designing for a mere 17 years now and have come across a few rip offs. In my heart I cry and I want to scream bloody murder off the roof tops. At the end of the day it really comes down to the client agreeing with crime. Designers (should I even call them that, ok “Hacks”) will do what they want to make a buck (design = art+business), but clients who become aware of it and are okay with it, well they are part of the problem too.

    If we’re looking for saints in the design world or any business that exists to turn a profit, we had better stop.

    Is this site going to improve things? Nope. Is it going to start some fights? Yep.

    These situations are already set to correct themselves. If a client stipulates (and they should) that a logo not contain stock or borrowed elements from existing logos the designer knows up front that they are violating a business contract. And, will face the full brunt of legal action (yes I know of one or two of these cases) against the designer as well as responsibility for any legal action taken against a company that sues for trademark violation.

    Maybe a large concerted initiative should be started that educates clients on “How to choose an ethical designer—avoid lawsuits.”

  • DesignBuddy

    Rafael, good point. I’d like to think that most students learn in elementary school that plagiarism is wrong, but it sure wouldn’t hurt reminding college students of this as you mention.

    Ricardo. I agree, design theft is inevitable, so worrying about it is probably a waste of energy. On the other hand, sitting back and doing nothing may be a wasted opportunity to detour would-be plagiarists. The difficulty is finding a way to do so without causing more harm than good (shaming innocent designers).

  • Rafael Macho

    Ricardo, I agree with you the exposure we got will always bring some copycat and it’s part of the business. But I also think that designers need to take their responsibility and not to consciously copy illegally work from another company. In order to proof if a logo exist already or no, this is a serious an time consuming work besides what a graphic designer can do.

    Instead we should explain to our clients that we can offer such services at an additional cost with a defined percentage overhead for the additional work and contract a company specialized in such job. If the client declines then the responsibility will defer to the client. Not to forget that using the US copyright (if you’re based in the US) http://www.copyright.gov can be a great solution and worth. Client need to pay for it and they want some protection on their new entity.

  • MSI

    The premise of this site is a good one, but the problem is that you have to be careful how you approach the issue of designers “ripping off” existing work. This isn’t like a student opening an encyclopedia and copying something word for word. That person had no previous knowledge of the subject. A designer, on the other hand, who is working on a new logo, let’s say, is drawing on his or her knowledge. That can come from a vast array of material experience. We are constantly bombarded with a plethora of information. We see logos and design everywhere. Something seen ten years ago might surface as an idea. Maybe or maybe not exactly original, but there it is. As I said in an earlier post, it’s not too hard to accidentally reproduce someone elses idea unbeknownst to the designer. This, I’m sure, is not the designer’s fault, and it happens all the time. Let’s say you took the ATT logo and flipped it over and changed the color, is that a copyright violation? For something so recognizable, probably, but for something less so probably not.

    My point is that a designer can’t always be held responsible for their designs, unless a true copyright search is performed be a copyright attorney. And it can be proven that the designer plagiarized the artwork. It should be the responsibility of the Company they’re working for to do the due diligence on all designs performed. It’s a slippery slope to accuse creatives of plagiarism. I’m sure it happens blatantly by some, as there are plenty of people without ethics.

  • DesignBuddy

    MSI, as mentioned earlier I agree with your sentiment on the subject. I will say though, that there are certain instances when it’s undeniable plagiarism was the culprit of a copycat. These are the logos that most designers have a problem with.

    For example: http://www.logothief.com/2013/harolds-of-cebu-city/. The entire script matches perfectly for the letters the names share. Same script, same curves, and even almost the same name. Instances like this, I’d have to say, are almost certainly not happenstance. At the same time though, maybe shining a light is better than simply calling someone a thief as the logothief website does. Just my two cents. Thanks for your adding to the discussion.

  • Dustin Wright

    Ever since I began drawing which eventually evolved into designing, I have always had the mentality that creating something that wasn’t mine made me feel as though I wasn’t a true designer. It makes me upset that there are designers out there that could plagiarize a logo and then sell it to their client for a profit. I really hope that LogoThief gains more and more recognition. Yes, it’s going to call designers out but what’s so wrong about that? Maybe thats what we need in this day in age, a website that will make designers actually do their job correctly through living in fear of being call out on selling a logo.

    I believe that designers should take time via “Research & Development” part of their job and put in the extra effort to make sure that their logo idea that they have came up with isn’t one that would be considered plagiarized. Honestly, what would be the difference in spending time making sure it doesn’t resemble some other logo then doing that anyway and just stealing the design?

    I think that there needs to a type of LinkedIn “reference” to the site eventually that clients can go onto the designers page and give a type of reference to designers that they have used and rank their performance. Vice versa you upload logos and designs through the site for other designers to view your work. Then be able to communicate to each other if that design has been used before or if it closely resembles a design they have seen before.

  • MSI

    Dustin, any company that is competent enough to hire a designer to develop any materials, particularly a logo or brand, should also have the resources to research via a lawyer, whether or not the brand is viable. They will be the ones that are liable if there’s a lawsuit. If the designer was complicit in plagiarizing someone else’s logo they will also be liable. Companies should also research and choose their designers carefully. As I stated very early on here, coincidences do happen and may not mean the designer was plagiarizing anything. Due diligence is important for both parties.

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