For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

"You look nice ... enough to copy"

This member of the IPKat team receives leads and links from many sources near and far, but this item was drawn to his attention by a very local source: Mrs Kat was checking her emails via the Yahoo! webmail service and this item sprang up before her very eyes. She wasted no time in reporting it to the appropriate blog member, for which she deservedly earns her very first kat-pat.

The intellectual property creation that lies at the heart of this post is the message on the right, painted by Atlanta, Georgia-based graffiti artist Tori LaConsay on a road sign in her vicinity. This work, painted in December 2008, bore an uncanny resemblance to a product design which was subsequently used by ubiquitous multinational high-street store Hennes & Mauritz (H and M, if you prefer), a sample of which is exhibited below.


The story goes that Tori LaC complained to H & M and received the following magnificent brush-off:
“We employ an independent team of over 100 designers. We can assure you that this design has not been influenced by your work and that no copyright has been infringed.”
It's not clear exactly what has happened since in purely legal terms, though it is reported that H&M has removed the offending items from its e-commerce website and is said to have posted this statement on its Facebook page last week:
“We are very sorry for our customer service team´s reply, it is very unfortunate and we apologize for it. We are in contact with Tori LaConsay and will continue the dialogue with her directly.”
At this point the trail seems to have gone cold. The IPKat, who considers that £2.99 is a very good price to pay for a guest -towel two-pack, wonders what has happened since. Has there been a legal claim and/or a settlement? What has happened to those guest-towels? Does H & M take indemnities from its members of its "independent team of over 100 designers" in respect of the risk of intellectual property infringement? And could the whole thing just be a complete coincidence?

Merpel's just puzzled that anyone would have thought the original worth creating in the first place, never mind copying or spontaneously emulating. But then, she's just a Kat and there's no accounting for aesthetic taste ...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Copying is a problem in academia where professors use their absolute authority over their students to publish papers while "forgetting" to acknowledge their students as co-authors. It is not unknown for students then to take a gruesome revenge by cooking up a hard to disprove "result" and wait for the professor to swipe the log books and then bear and grin it until their professor is brutally defrocked by the peers. I know such cases.

We will never know but it is a possibility that someone junior fed their senior designer a pre cooked goose. What is fair to assume though is that the person whose name was on this designer copy is now gone. Quietly. And most likely forever.

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