Rob Beschizza at 7:52 am Thu, Feb 23, 2012
ADVERTISE AT BOING BOING!
On the left, a jewelry design by TattyDevine. On the right, one sold by Claire's. I suspect that it's a fairly generic motif, but that really is very close to an exact rip, isn't it? Except that it's pink, of course.
Claire’s Accessories rip-off Tatty Devine designs [Handbag.com via]
Worth pointing out that there are actually 5 stolen designs shown by the OP: http://www.tattydevine.com/blog/2012/02/can-you-spot-the-difference/
My question: should Tatty Devine (and other designers) be worried about the Maker movement? My first thought was, “Hm, I bet I could make one of those with a 3D printer.” And my second thought: “And sell it on Etsy.”
This particular example seems such an obvious rip that it’s perhaps not an issue here, but sometimes folks wonder why it’s not OK for big companies to ‘remix’ independent artists. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right?
First, it *is* OK for them to do this, in many circumstances. A lot of the OMG Ripoff! scandals that emerge are far from it. More importantly, you can’t stop it. Mass-market co-optation of ideas is culture’s shrinkage–and eventually, it tends to give back. We have to factor it in, just like how Claire’s factors in the 13 year-old shoplifters endlessly looting their stores.
When they do particularly shameless knockoffs, however, where it’s not really a remix or parody or even a derivative, their unequal access to capital, markets and the courts makes them big, storming assholes.
That’s an interesting distinction to draw that I guess I hadn’t thought of before. It’s not the co-opting of the idea that is necessarily bad, it’s the combination of the wholesale duplication with the existing market dominance of the larger entity.
Co-opting ideas isn’t necessarily bad, but large retailers co-opting independent designers’ ideas is stifling and monopolistic, because of how it can crush the demand for the originals by mass-producing what are essentially bulk counterfeits of their work.
My wife is a jewellery designer whose work has been ripped off so many times (once by a former employer – in our hometown!) that she doesn’t even bother getting upset anymore. She actually thought about going after someone once – for a blatant, obvious example of design plagiarism – and was informed by her lawyer that it would probably cost enough to beggar us. So much for that idea.
So – just keep coming up with new ideas and stay one step ahead of the scumbags that way. They’re sure not going away!
It’s like in Cory’s book “Makers,” where the main characters, after making some neat electronic gizmo and getting an initial profit, almost immediately get ripped off by Chinese-made knockoffs. Instead of fighting anything or trying to protect their design, their advisor tells them to immediately move onto something else, that you can’t fight the knockoffs, and the only thing you can do is be creative enough to stay one step ahead making something new.
So on the one hand I feel bad about Tatty Divine’s stuff, but on the other hand…ehn.
Art Imitating Life v2.0
I counter with this wonderful TED talk, which I believe was posted on here a while ago.
Whatever you make, China will copy for 1/10th the price. Always.
But hey, what are you gonna do? Stop making stuff and give up to do the J.O.B. in a cube farm?
I was trying to sell lampworked glass pendants on etsy (hotworks), but pretty much gave up after I went down to Walgreens and saw a whole display rack full of Chinese versions of the same thing. They were selling for about a dollar more than my cost of materials and energy, and were fairly well done.
So now I make things that are sufficiently bizarre that they don’t appeal to a mass market. But I won’t be quitting my day job anytime soon, it is mostly just for fun.
And I have prototypes for a couple of Arduino based products, but see a similar dilemma: if they are really popular the design will get ripped off, if they aren’t popular I likely wouldn’t be able to cover cost.
So what is the solution? We could shut down websites that sell infringing products, but that didn’t go over very well did it?
The solution is to start your new idea, make as much as you can until you get ripped off, and then make something new. The difficult part isn’t selling one thing, it’s coming up with new things to sell.
So you were able to quit your day job and successfully put this into practice? I would be interested in hearing the details.
Well, sort of kind of. I worked for years in the film industry and slowly saw my job whittled away by technology and by cost-cutting/consolidation, so I abandoned it, moved to a new city and started from scratch. Wasn’t easy but it’s working out.
No one says it’s fair, but it’s also not fair if you were a travel agent, or if you are a band who hates touring and wants to be in the studio all the time, or if you’re an author and the business requires you to blog, tweet, and maintain relationships when all you want to do is be a Cormac McCarthy-esque recluse. You have to adapt to the reality of the situation you face. If everyone knocks off every new product you make, you have to focus on constantly making new products.
The funny thing is that everyone is so irate about Claires copying this company but no one is taking into account who TattyDevine copied. Let me point out that I work in the accessories design field and have seen 3 of the 5 designs in question done and re-done in the past which shouldnt be a shock considering their such iconic or referential shapes. All the Claires renditions look changed enough to skirt the knock-off laws. Honestly this is a perfect example of how trickle down trends work. But hey lets make a big deal about some $20 home made necklaces, no one pay attention to Marc Jacobs knocking the fashion industry off and anything that moves in it LOL
I’m on your side. I wish people could think for themselves and design by being inspired and not by stealing ideas but unfortunately that’s the lazy world we live in, not to mention its ruled by the dollar which is obviously more important than human life LOL we prove that everyday! Go Humanity!
Yeah, whenever there is one of these scandals, I’m always waiting for prior prior art to show up….
I found this site a while back, its full of them! http://youthoughtwewouldntnotice.com/blog3/
Some are not as blatant as others, but its almost always the same situation. Big guy ripping off the little guy.
I used to live nearby an expensive accessory shop in Sydney, Australia selling those Tatty Devine T-Rex necklaces, but could never *quite* justify the cost. On one hand, it’s shitty of Claire’s to knock off such a recognisable design. On the other hand, I can finally afford a T-Rex necklace, ace! And it’s even pink!
I think I feel less bad about this in part because Tatty Devine have been doing that necklace for years now (I know, because I have been coveting it for years) before Claire’s turned up to vulturise the concept. I’d feel differently if it was from their brand-new collection.
Aren’t they both just inspired by a trex model kit that you find all over the place. like this
Any paleontologist worth his salt would notice the pelvic differences immediately.
Mail (will not be published) (required)