Copying and Honour - Proving who designed it first

So many instances of designers claiming someone else ripped them off etc. I have noticed one glassware design claiming it was the original even though it was produced only recently…the designer has claimed it was designed in '03… :open_mouth:

Should a design be only recognised when it is either produced/in the public domain or what?? Should the designer have legal proof of when it was designed?

what is you view?

It is a tough call, more and more I think once the design is in production is more legit then floating around in concept world. These days designs are a dime a dozen anyone can do cad and pump out a slick rendering.

My question is even if you can figure out who designed it first… how original is that first design? Most likely it was inspired by something else as well.

Two designers could have been working on a similar problem/project, been inspired by similar sources (as designers we tend to like a lot of similar things) and reached similar conclusions.

The automobile and the radio where both developed in different countries almost simultaneously (considering there wasn’t a lot of trans-continental communication then). Both of those products are pretty complicated. If that can happen, then 2 designers could conceivably come up with a similar wine glass or whatever at the same time, totally innocently.

Not saying that stuff doesn’t get ripped off… Just saw a a bunch of rip off shoes today in China markets that in some cases where canceled projects from other companies. Just that it is possible to be chance in some cases…

Of course, inevitably designers produce similar work, but the reason for starting this thread is because arguments always centre around when they ‘claim’ to have designed the piece.

This is the crux- does a designer, who gets their work published just as a Cad rendering(either on pretence or intention to produce), have a legitimate argument for claiming their work was designed first ? Or should the designer have to wait until they are in prototype or production before they can say they are the legit originator.

It’s Friday, but this discussion reminds me of a topic that came up at lunch with the design team: The rules for calling Shotgun.

I guess this one brings up a lot of questions:

Is it ripping you off if someone sees your concept, but brings it to production/market faster, while at the same time claiming it is original? It is not an un-common engineering bias that if they brought the concept to realization then they are the “designer”, and the conceiver of the concept is not.

It depends on the nature of the idea being ripped off, is it pure styling or a patentable idea? (I know people are trying to patent shapes too).

Was your concept one that was a great idea, but you had not yet figured out how exactly it would work or gone through design engineering?

Did the organization that stole it take it from your concept and do all of the engineering work to bring it to market?

Some ways to not get ripped off as easily is to yes, always sign/date your work, use a watermark on anything you distribute in the public domain, or just flat out keep it confidential between key figures working on the project.

Great points.

I would say the first to show their in the public domain is the originator and thats that. A designer with the same or a very close concept should always respect the originator; though if your work is recognised, copycats are the best form of flattery

And it is probably best not to show innovative work on the net or at exhibitions if you are not able to bring to market quickly(bathroom products especially).

I would add that if a designer is putting a date to their design they should be able to prove it beyond doubt.

I have faced similar problem recently.
I was just exploring some concepts for Bicycle parking.
I thought I have developed a good one concept & published it to couple of site just to know what would be the other’s opinion about it.
Afterwards……I came across a product that holds a lot of similarity.
But ….unable to stop the published design to spread across the net.
I have received the couple enquiries for my published design.
Then ……directed them to manufacture who’s product is already there in market.

So… though my concept was same as that of production piece
I won’t claim for design/concept.
but …I am happy that my concept is worth of production…

hey, there is a possibility that similar design can conceptualized & produced somewhere, in different timeline…
it will be necessary for designer to create unique design style/method/thinking so that it will rarely overlaps with other design/er. (ex. naoto fukasawa) :unamused:

I think…before publishing/putting effort for any design …goggle it out …check if there any similar design published/produced ?

adding watermark (sign & date) to design is a good idea…

Yes, always do the full research before taking an idea further - For bicycle parking, I am sure its quite easy to have similar concepts.

Two yrs ago, a friend had a ceramic design already in production/published widely, when another very similar design was posted on a site. The negative comments prompted the other designer (chinese) to contact her and he basically went on attack mode…quite unpleasant. His main defence was he had not seen her work therefor he planned to produce it. Its a shame when designers have no respect.

I think there are two groups for this:

Trend/fashion design.
This group of work is inspired by work done by others, we are all guilty of this. We build on trends and ideas others have created and push it to the next level… Eg. minimalism etc… We can not all clam we invented the box.

Innovation design:
A brand new idea or point of view that brings something new other than trend/style to the table. This is the group that needs to carefully protect their design/idea so it is not ripped off etc…

Look at the iphone? Metal band black gloss field… We have all been sketching this for years… But the idea of the iphone, integrated software/hardware that truly strikes an emotional cord with users… That is something that can be owned.

Think of design that way, can you truly own an idea? Have you build your design on someone else’s foundation?

Just some thoughts…

Inspiration is OK.

Blatantly taking someone elses idea is not.

I am designing a bathroom washbasin at the moment. It has what I know is an innovative feature which combines 2 elements. No one has done it yet- I did my research!
But I know for sure the idea will be copied (many italian companies are pretty shameless), the only way to protect it is to sell the design to a reputable company like Antonio Lupi

there is no way to truly protect “design” heck you cant even protect a doohicky that has a valid utility patent…the reason…it takes boat loads of money.

This may not be a popular answer, but really does it matter who came up with it first anymore. Most of the stuff that gets designed isn’t really “Iconic” so who cares, if you design it, and I mean you really think you designed it, then take it to market. I don’t think that this topic really applies to corporations, and the answers here are geared more towards startups and consultancies making some side bets. If it gets copied, then sue if you think you’ll win. Seriously if youre going to be taking something all the way to manufacture you probably did enough research where this shouldn’t be a problem, right?

What is the worst that could happen, you have to design something else? Does anyone really enjoy looking at the stuff they worked on a year ago anyway?

This is what I think separates an inventor from a designer. An inventor may encounter a problem in his or her everyday life, with something they work with every day. So they just solve it, they don’t research a need right? They already have a need, so they solve it. Then some other people with similiar needs come along and the inventor figures he has a good idea. A designer shows up for work and researches an area to find a need. I’ve worked on paint application, if I was a painter and I invented the solution I came up with, I would be an painter/inventor, but instead, I had to research painting techniques, available products etc, and then ideate, you know the rest. Next I worked on some soft-goods or something I don’t know, whatever.

It seems like many, but not all, the people who come on these boards talking about stolen ideas are designers who invented something. As in they didn’t use any real process, didn’t do a lot of research. This seems to be a problem in the “one-off” world too, with a lot of these sculpture as functional object items, lamps, teapots etc.

obviously this is all speculation without doing much research, it is after-all an internet forum, not a scholarly journal.

No the “inventor” and “designer” work the same way, however the inventor is rarely concerned about the look of a product where the designer is obsessed with it.

I’m going to go ahead and politely disagree with you, again…

what about all that necessity is the mother of invention stuff? and then how often do you design things you need? You are designing things other people need.

and so if you have to skill set to identify areas of necessity, and can research those areas to gain enough information about the user’s experience, just design something else. Inventors who may or may not be able to come up with another concept are the ones who need to prove it was their idea. Does a corporation care who’s idea it is, or do they care that they can make it theirs and sell it.

And not all of design is styling, what about ergonomics, and sustainablity, and appropriateness of products?

Carton, i totally agree with you… Some of my favorite design work, the gesture of the product is influenced by the function. I think the two are married together, at least with some of the design classics… “styling” is the wrong word. If you invent a new technology or product idea you can’t just put it in a box. You need to wrap it in some sort of coating that implies the function/idea/usability…