9/19/11

new wool


Have you noticed that Wool has a new logo? Well, Quince & Co. recently received an email from the lawyers who represent the designer Orla Kiely saying the leaf motif I created for the book was a trade marked design and we were infringing on her copyrighted work. Wow. I was really floored.

Yes, the designs look very similar. I absolutely agree to that. But, I saw the resemblance as being reminiscent of not just her design, but also of the design that appears on the Japaneses vintage mug above (maybe from the 70's?), and of our very talented, local designer Angela Adams, whom I have had the pleasure of working for for several years. So, if anyone gave me inspiration, it was Angela and that mug that I sipped my morning decaf coffee from every morning this summer. And, I really didn't see that I was infringing. When I started "doodling" around on Illustrator I wasn't thinking I want to make a leaf that looks a lot like Orla Kiely, but just different enough so no one notices. No, no, no. I started with some clip art, morphed it. Took off the petal top. Removed the stem. And, was left with 2 lovely, colorful, whimsical leaves. I saw the similarity, but it felt to me like we were different Airstreams at the same camp ground.

So, anyway, that's that. We changed the design as we didn't want to rock the boat and find ourselves drowning in a sea of a lawsuit. But, I am left wondering if a designers intention means anything? Having worked for Angela Adams, I am well aware that there are companies out there who blatantly sell products with designs that look almost identical to hers and so there is a need to protect the brand. However, it was never my intention to do this. I find it very disheartening to know that my creative process has led me to the path of "infringement".

It's an interesting topic. Us knitters are very lucky to have full access to several knit stitches that were thankfully never copyrighted. Barbara Walker has endowed the knitting community with some stitch treasures! We should all be so thankful for those books. Can you imagine if someone had copyrighted stockinette stitch? Or worse—garter stitch! Also, I must say that I am very happy my designer friends and I can laugh with each other when we design something similar or use a similar (or the same) stitch pattern. I joked with a couple of them recently, saying that I think we designers share a brain sometimes. What makes it okay is that we are able to recognize the differences in the design, making it unique to being "ours," if anything really is unique and ours.

I'm thinking of that saying that there is nothing new in art anymore. And, the mug pictured above (I imagine was created long before Orla hit the market), makes me think that there are only manipulations of what has already been created. Well...I don't know....maybe not. Who knows! I'm just a little designer who likes to knit things, who like to draw from time to time, and likes to design book layouts. Excuse these ramblings and back to what I was originally writing here: Wool has a new logo—dots. Colorful little circles. Hopefully, those haven't been copyrighted already, too.


24 comments:

Marthaamay O_o said...

I suppose it's whoever gets biggest, first. Shame.
I like the new dots, almost looks like a flower if you squint a little!

Regina said...

That is too bad. I still think the wool logo looks great, but I loved the leaves and never once thought of Orla Kiely's design when looking at it. I think it is a bit crazy that they would even pursue this when you are not selling the same items, nor even in the same market.

French Press Knits said...

Wow... it does leave me a little disheartened. I think you did the right thing, and the circles look great just as the leaves did. Just think of where the knitting design world would be if every stitch was copyrighted- so many designs that utilize a collection of stitches would not be allowed to be published. I feel that this would totally hurt the world of knit-design and makes me wonder if (because this is the way it is in the world of graphic design) general design is hurt a bit by this. I do understand that people want to protect their work, but don't we all find inspiration in different places, whether it be nature, industry, and even a different version of other's work. I guess you can never be too careful these days.

madder said...

I completely agree...as a creative person you can find inspiration just about anywhere and everywhere. And, I don't always want to be looking over my shoulder to make sure "no one's done this first". How stifling. I guess you just have to forge forward and hope for the best. ?? Thanks everyone...glad the little dots are just as exciting as little leaves.

Abe said...

Hi Carrie,

I'm really sorry to hear about your experience here. This kind of thing, unfortunately, seems to be the way of the world these days. In my industry, software, it's actually even worse: software patents have made it possible to patent the equivalent of stockinette stitch, making it impossible to create anything without opening yourself up to being targeted in a lawsuit (see http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/441/when-patents-attack for some good reporting on this).

The important thing to remember is that you are an artist, not a thief. The lovely leaf motif you used here has probably been around for thousands of years, and been rediscovered thousands of times. Artists have always found inspiration from nature, whether it was the ancient Minoans who used these designs: http://www.fhw.gr/chronos/02/crete/en/gallery/diakosm98.html, or the child who did this sketch: http://charlieandhenryhomeschoolideas.blogspot.com/2009/07/sunflowers-up-date.html.

A few months ago we took our little boy Jonah to the zoo, and as he was looking at a kangaroo a little girl walked up, glared at him, and said "my kangaroo!". It was cute and funny - how naive to think that you could own something just because you claimed it. Unfortunately that's not too far from the truth of how things work in real life these days - the only difference is that the little girl didn't threaten our son with a lawsuit.

But I think you can hold your head high here. You took the high road and moved on. You could decide to put your time and energy into fighting legal battles, or you could spend it producing great work. I think you made the right decision.

Best,

-Abe

p.s. Here's a great video series on how all creative work is inspired by what came before: http://www.everythingisaremix.info/

madder said...

Thank you so much, Abe.

Mary Joy said...

I thought they looked like colorwork stitches, but regardless, I like your dots as well.

I never thought of Orla Kiely. The two lobes and a stem is a derivative of an older, universal design, but I suppose that particular motif is key to Orla's brand, just as the phrase "in and out" is to the West Coast's In 'N' Out Burger chain. I can understand protecting the copyrighted brand but it does come across as bullying.

This reminds me of KnitPixie, actually...

madder said...

Hey, Mary Joy. So, what happened to KnitPixie?

Cirilia said...

"Just a little designer..."

Sorry, no. You're an artist, my dear! It's funny, I'm finalizing a handout for a design course that I am teaching this weekend and this is a huge, huge part of the course. There is no definitive answer but yes, a sense of humor about things being "in the ether" can get you through this disheartening experience.

HazelandMare said...

Wow- I am sorry you had to deal with that! I LOVE Quince & Co and just came upon the new Wool patterns and I think they are so amazing! It was mean of the lawyers to make it seem like you were "infringing"... that is certainly not something a creative person wants to be accused of. And it's a pretty simple design, can they really claim ownership over that? It's like you said, what if someone trademarked garter stitches- where would we all be! Anyway, I love your work and I can't wait to start your patterns, whatever the logo is. :)

madder said...

thanks, ladies...
:)

Cecily said...

I completely understand the need for people to protect their work.
However, this seems to be going too far and feels like bullying.
The designs just seem too different for contact from a lawyer to be reasonable.
Ah well, the dots are adorable too:)
xoxo
C

margaux said...

Just wanted to chime in and say I agree with everyone about this rediculousness. As a fan of orla kiley I am actually a little sad that her people are hunting out such vauge "copies".

With the whole missoni target mess going on right now imagine if they put a copyright on chevron stripes!? Yikes.

madder said...

Thanks, C. xoxo

Margaux, I know. I LOVE chevron!
And, I would think that Orla's peeps would have bigger fish to fry than our Wool e-book.

knitbot said...

Creepy!

And no joke, if Stockinette stitch was copyrighted, I would be so out of a job.

Well handled, Carrie. You're one of the classy ones.
xo

madder said...

Thanks, Hannah!
xo

Barb T. said...

I am a HUGE Carrie Bostick Hoge fan; I don't know who Orla Kiely is (sorry designers and Orla). Enuf said!!!

madder said...

Aw. Thank you, Barb!

joanne said...

Poor you! It seems everyone is suing to protect something...a sign of hard times perhaps? You are very generous to the big guys to comply so readily.
Good luck with the books. The patterns are great!

madder said...

thanks, joanne.

the-leh said...

OK, I got curious about the knitpixie comment (that's one of my favorite knitting websites, besides Quince & Co, of course!). I found this:

http://knitting.livejournal.com/5679361.html

Leave it to live journal to give us the straight truth. And, fwiw, the comments about corporate law really are true. My sister in law is a corporate lawyer.

Anyway. I know I'm late to the party with commenting (I've been busy knitting, OK?), but I swear I saw this the day it was posted.

Also: Happy Birthday! Wish I'd have checked back the day you posted THAT entry. Ha! Love the new sweater pattern.

karen alho said...

Dear Carrie, If they can copyright/patent the human genome, which has been around a lot longer than lawyers, is it any surprise? I'm thinking of taking out the copyright/patent on the right index finger! Everytime anyone uses it I would make 1/100th of a cent. Sound good?

madder said...

You're so smart, Karen. Why didn't I think of that?! You'll be rich in about a minute.
:)

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