A while back I posted a link to a Kickstarter campaign for Orangered's notebook called the BetterBook, which has an aspect ratio that matches a smartphone's. It turns out the BetterBook looks an awful lot like Studio Neat's Panobook, which was launched a few years ago. Core77 interviewed Dan Provost, co-founder of Studio Neat, to find out how he is dealing with being knocked off:
Has Studio Neat ever been knocked off before? If so, what were the circumstances and resolution, if any?
Yep, many times, to varying degrees. Sometimes it is a literal copy, down to the packaging. Sometimes it is something that is heavily "inspired" by something we have made. In the early days we would attempt to contact the guilty party, but we more or less ignore them these days.
In this age of trolls, a pro-BetterBook troll would say, "Well, they added a new feature with the black border for easier scanning. So I don't think it's a knock-off." What would you say to that?
Well, we actually do firmly believe that "everything is a remix." It is impossible to design in a vacuum; every new product or idea is undoubtedly influenced and inspired by things that have existed before. That's certainly true for Panobook. Where it gets uncomfortable is moving from "inspired" territory to "copied." But we are not in a position to litigate that, nor do we have much interest in that.
I emailed Orangered three days ago to get their side of the story, but they haven't responded. If they do, I'll update this post.