Plagerism Threads

I am seeing this recent plagerism thread as a potential growing problem for Core77 and the Internet Design Community.

It is a problem that I surely don’t have a good solution for, but I think needs to be considered by all of us. Anyone and their dog can jump on the boards and start screaming plagerism. No proof is needed. No court is held to gauge whether any plagerism has occured.

It is a guilty until proven innocent scenario and I fundamentally have a problem with that. We’ve already learned from the Kestrel/Orbea thread that things quite often are not as they seem.

What risk/responsibility do we all carry in this? While I don’t condone plagerism in any way shape or form, the manner in which it is carried out here can cause someone serious career harm if it is used the wrong way.

Hey, I thought that idea first!

But, seriously, I think we need to all, as a group, be very careful of what we call plagiarism. I recently had a deal go south with a potential client who found exactly what we were planning on working on at a local college exhibition. It sucks, but people have similar ideas all the time. Being such visual people can sometimes hurt us as well. I don’t know how many times I have sketched something I swear I thought up when I see it later, realizing that my subconscious had stuffed it away when I had inadvertently seen it the first time. That being said, good ideas are good ideas and lots of people have them and they are often very similar, if not the same. If you are seriously thinking you have been ripped off and have the opportunity to seek legal recourse, do so in private. Once you air your dirty laundry on the internet, it’s there forever.

Remember kids, I am not a lawyer, I just play one on TV.

I think Internet forums are a great way to expose the truth. It puts would-be plagerists on-notice.

Remember, the poster is assuming all risk in making the claim. That said, it provides the “little guy” a voice and forum to post a grievance.

Let democracy work!

I have to disagree, CG. We’re not talking about something minor, here. We’re treading on much, much bigger issue. Issues that can damage, very permanently, a person’s career or a company’s reputation. Issues that aren’t defined by a dollar value.

Freedom of speech is one thing. But even freedom of speech is gated by civil rights surrounding issues like slander. Posting on a public forum, as you pointed out in the recent thread, has very permanent ramifications. It smells like a witch hunt to me and is far too easy to manipulate the truth.

What your take does make me consider is the idea that the truth usually does get flushed out throughout the discourse. Or, at the very least, the pendulum does swing back to center.

I agree with CG.
This is the best place in the world to hear good advices from our fellows designers. It´s a powerful resource.
I think this forum really helps a lot in this cases.
I also truly believe in democracy and justice.
if you really want to end this kind discussions, just make a forum rule for it!
But I don´t think it´s a good move.

Democracy and justice involves a court of law, due diligence, and the assumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

Calling someone out on this forum is NONE of those. Calling someone out in a forum like this is a witch hunt.

Ok. Just put it on the forum rules if you want to stop this kind of posts.


I guess I would go with a couple cliches here:

1_ Do unto others as you would want done to you: You don’t know this guy. It could be an innocent coincidence. The Radio was invented in two places almost simultaneously. A lot bigger coincidence than a faucet lamp.

2_ What comes around goes around. If the designer did steal the idea, he will get his in the end.

3_ ideas are cheap, implementation is expensive. You have got to out promote and implement your design, or accept the fact that if you put it out there it can get taken. I always accept that when I put stuff out there, but I also know I can come up with more ideas.

4_ With great freedom comes great responsibility. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Think about how this makes you look.

5_ careful when pointing fingers, they might get pointed back at you. You took inspiration from a faucet for your design… is their a faucet out there that you used specifically for inspiration? How does that designer feel?

6_ don’t post angry. trust me.

Back to the wild west. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. It will all fall of to page 2 of the discussions in a week.

I’m leaning IP’s way. There is a lot of BS on the net that harms reputations, and I’d rather Core not go down that low road. I think this falls into that category.

On a personal note, I didn’t know that Kestral and Orbea recognized each other’s designs as original. I did remember that initial post that Orbea had copied. I bet I’m not alone. People remember the initial claim more than the correction. Just ask American’s about Saddam & Al Qaeda.

On the other hand, I don’t think this means we can’t talk about similarities in products. I think it would be interesting to compare and contrast designs such as those mentioned in these threads. It would also be constructive & unveil new opportunities. I’d like to read more of that.

Absolutely. I am not implying that discussion shouldn’t be had around this topic. In fact, its a very important topic.

Designers need a forum for critical discourse. It’s part of what we are. Further reading:

How do we feel about this thread?

I was looking at that thread last night and had me on the same thought process.

The big difference between this thread and the “someone stole my idea”-type of thread is the context and ensuing discussion.

The shoe thread did several things right to, as you put it, have a critical discourse.

No one’s name was called out in the witch hunt manner that did yesterday. The tone of the shoe thread was not one looking to have someone’s name diminished. Neither Fila nor Nike were called out as being at fault. It was an observation similarity.

The follow-on discussion was centered around what made one design the leader in the category. Quality of stitching, material contrast difference, etc.

Yesterday’s thread had full intention of damaging the person that was allegedly at fault for plagerism.

No experienced designer can claim that they don’t see this everywhere. Influence and homage in product imagery is everywhere. Hell, the iPod thread that showed the Braun comparisons were a great example.

It is tone, context and manner that I have a huge problem with. When I see someone being attacked without due process, or worse without justification like yesterday, I have a big problem with that.

Perhaps it should be a poll. Just a presentation of facts- perhaps time stamped jpegs (?) and the designers can vote to call it plagiarism?

Perhaps we can set up some guidelines to decide what is a neutral method of comparing the two designs rather than out and out accusations.

No one here has the authority to claim any design or work plagiarism.

There should be no vote, and no discussion of whether it “is or isn’t”

It is up to boring used suit-wearing lawyers and powdered wig adorning judges to decide that, based on hours and hours of court, printed physical (possibly notarized) documents that are clearly dated, and thousands and thousands of dollars. Plus a small percentage of your vitality.

If you think your design has been stolen, I suppose its cool to vent a bit, but to outright claim that someone stole your idea without a clear concise case should be an equal crime. That’s firing a gun at an innocent person in response to a crime they “may” have committed.

Someone else said it here, in regards to the copying of the bicycle seat post thread a while back… it’s the accusation that is remembered, not the outcome.

yeah, and that goes double for you! lol

Isn’t it ironic that after some had trouble with the finger pointing in the forums that someone posts this to the Core blog:


I have never seen one of my designs copied…yet. However, I’ve seen a couple cases of “great minds thinking alike”.

  1. When I was looking for a job last year, I had an follow up interview that included a sketching exercise. I drew this companies product with an American Chopper look & did a little PS render. I didn’t get the job, but 3 months later I toured a local consultancy that works with this company. I was stopped in my tracks when I saw a PS render that looked nearly identical to mine (except more detailed and a lot cleaner). I couldn’t believe it!

I’m sure that neither of us had seen the other’s work, it’s just a matter of following the same trends.

  1. I rendered a couple concepts of products that we make at Stelpro over the holidays. I thought one was a particularly clever retro-product. I was disappointed when my boss seemed unimpressed. About a month later I ran across a nearly identical product in one of our competitor’s back catalog!

I really hope my boss doesn’t think I’m mining our competition’s back catalog for new ideas.

I would hold up my stories as examples of how a lot of “plagiarism” is just a case of coincidence. I would certainly do a lot of checking before calling someone out on the forums, I hope other’s do as well.

This is on their plagiarism registration form:

“In order to avoid misunderstandings Aktion Plagarius will inform the supposed imitator about your prior design rights of the product and give him adequate time to allow him to react and describe his viewpoint before admitting the plagiarism to the jury session of the plagiarius competition.”

The jury are people just like us, although with legal council.

Yup…the “contestants” are knowingly thrown under the bus. They are given an opportunity to reply and some form of due process is provided.

I have no issue with the idea of a plagerism cage match. That’s cool. It’s the plagerism witch hunt that is seriously flawed.