Sep 5, 2006

It'll Make You Sick!

A while back I did the above art for a 'Barf Bag' art contest ran by ''. (No longer online) Virgin Atlantic Airlines sponsored the contest and out of over 500 international submissions mine was picked to be part of a limited edition set Virgin would actually produce and use on their international flights.

You can watch a CNN Video about the contest and see my bag in it here.

Well a few weeks back a friend of mine emailed me and informed me that 'The Oriental Trading Company' had ripped-off my barf bag artwork. He attached the following image.

I was surprised they'd actually derive their art so closely from my original. The fact the toy product was also called 'Barf Bag' furthered my suspicion in regards to their so-called inspiration for the design. I realize the derived art they created just flat out stinks, if you're going to rip-off another design at least make it look good. But then again I guess if they could make something look good they wouldn't need to rip-off another persons art?

This isn't the first time I've had my art ripped-off. Over the past several years it's happened about six times now. Most of those times I find out from other people who come across my work online and then let me know. Some have tried to create whole shops on using my art on mugs, clocks and throw pillows, others have broken into pdf files and have sold my artwork on Another person posted my work on a russian web site and offered it as clip-art. I am amazed that people think they can get away with this? And yet they do for at least a little while until they are caught. The guy on had '46' orders before he was shut down. Who knows what those '46' people will do with my art that was stolen?

Today I've been talking with the legal department of Oriental Trading Company to resolve this matter. I am seeking compensation for the usage. I am not going to be a jerk about it but they need to be fair and honest about their artist infringement. The general counsel for OTC said they had bought the product from an Asian vendor but as you can see in the image above they have '©OTC' in it. That makes them owners of illegal art and they are profiting from it.

I have learned my lesson, all my pdf files now are encrypted and I file quarterly copyright registration with the US Government to protect my unpublished artwork.

I hope they do the right thing and I'll update this post when I know more.


Well I've been going back and forth with the Oriental Trading Company and they've agreed to pay the usage fee I requested so that is cool.

I am glad I didn't need to get a lawyer involved.


Kathy Weller said...

oh my gosh, what a nightmare. you're handling it well though. do you have an intellectual property laywer on retention? one letter from an i.p. lawyer might be all it takes... good luck.

E Colquhoun said...

You go boy! Good for you Von.

I went through small claims court to settle a similar principle. If they had given me $50 and told me get lost I would have but they had to be knobs about it. I won, but it took 6 months to settle.

Vonster said...

Hey! Wait a minute Eric you said 'Knobs'! LOL

Nix said...

You really should get a lawyer because the more designers are taken seriously the less likely this will happen to all of us.

Darla, Pencil Portrait Artist said...

I had something similar happen with a pencil artwork of an eagle I drew (and it was drawn from an original photograph my husband took). A friend sent me the information about a Boy Scouting badge that looked like they had just based it on my eagle, using a mirror image of it and then turned it into an embroidered patch. He was more incensed than I was.
I figured it was pretty hard to prove they stole it from me, but now that I've read your post, it gives me another idea about how to get compensation without having to have a lawyer involved. I like the way you handled it.