The Suspect
Every evening I like to sit down with my iPad and read through all the various sites and publications I enjoy following. While browsing one of my feeds I stumbled upon an article about a new web site called LogoGarden.com. I managed to read about a paragraph before getting disgusted.

I wasn’t in the mood to read about another person infringing upon our industry, so I wrote it off as just another fast food logo service and moved on to more preferable reading, not even bothering to visit their site.

A few days later I was contacted by fellow designer Leighton Hubbell who informed me that he had found some logo designs of mine and many others on the LogoGarden.com site. At first I didn’t make the connection with the previous article I had stumbled upon while reading, but once I visited the site I recognized the annoying Cheshire Cat photo of it’s founder and it all clicked.

The Crime Scene
After auditing LogoGarden.com I discovered a total of 35 of my logos being sold on their website. 11 of which are displayed as sold examples. So Mr. Williams has already made over $800 off my work. (If his site is to be believed) I don’t know this guy, so I can only judge him by his actions in context of this whole unfolding situation and so far I can say with the highest confidence that he’s a class A infringer.

LogoGarden.com McLogo interface design.

The Evidence
The biggest hassle in dealing with a copyright infringement is dealing with a copyright infringement.

The whole process is a major pain in the ass. I had to spend hours going through their antiquated flash GUI to isolate all the various marks of mine they had infringed upon and take a screen captures of everything to document it. The image above shows the first two marks of mine I found on LogoGarden.com and the image below shows the same designs from my portfolio.

Apparently the person doing the infringing feels an extra dot added to the end of each element will magically turn it into an original creative idea I guess? In reality it’s proof of nefarious intent. And I love what Bill Gardner of LogoLounge.com shared regarding these infringements and the subtle changes in logo detailing:

“In fact, such action by you clearly indicates that your infringement was with full knowledge that you did not have a right to copy these images and constitutes willful copyright infringement.”

You can read the full article Bill Gardner wrote for Rockport Publishing here. Since his original blog article, Bill has posted an update showing that Mr. Williams infringement wasn’t a mere graphic happenstance, but rather a systematic and premeditated rip-off. Check out the evidence for yourself here.

Steps mark for P&G and a Microsoft Windows Gaming Concept.

The Vics
It took me roughly two hours to discover all 35 of my marks being sold on LogoGarden.com. I’m only showing a fraction of them in this post. (See image below) As I went through the site I recognized work from a lot of different designers other than myself too.

Most prominent to me was the work of Gardner design, so I contacted Bill Gardner and notified him regarding LogoGarden.com and soon after he found nearly 200 marks of theirs being sold on the site as well. The result of his encounter with John Williams lead to the above mentioned article on Rockport Publishings blog.

My friend and designer Brent Pelloquin of Prejean Creative discovered 28 of their firms logos being sold on LogoGarden.com also.

The list of infringed designers keeps growing as more people are made aware of LogoGarden.com. Other design friends of mine like Jeff Fisher, Paul Howalt, Maggie Macnab, Felix Sockwell, Jeff Pollard have all discovered their work being peddled like graphic snake oil by John Williams as well.

Six of the 35 marks ripped off by LogoGarden.com.

Not only has LogoGarden.com stolen my art but they’ve done a half ass job at re-creating the designs as well. Notice how they auto-traced the rhino linear logo I designed (shown above) and attempted to make it solid shapes? I’ve seen brain dead monkeys on crack produce better work than this. Yet John Williams proclaims to be a seasoned veteran heading an award-winning design team.

Imitation isn’t always flattering
A handful of my marks were displayed on LogoGarden.com as real-world examples (See below) whose apparent buyers were so satisfied with their logo purchase that they offered up compelling kudos like “I have a lot more…” let me finish that for you lady “money to throw away!”

I’m sure that’s what she was going to say, because she looks awfully pensive in her avatar image.

LogoGarden.com rip on left my original mark on right.

I seriously doubt these testimonials are real, I think they’re all fakes because the links go no where when you click on them. Matter of fact I’m not completely convinced that John Williams is actually a guy named John Williams? If so he’s a very stupid individual for associating his name so closely with such a high level of design malfeasance.

I do however think he’s your garden variety design Flim Flam Man. No need to pardon that pun either.

LogoGarden.com rip on left my original mark on right.

Having my hard work ripped off is a pain, and having it ripped off by a dip shit like John Williams is a creative injury. But having it ripped off and used for an erectile product logo is just adding needless design insult upon the injury. Look at that awesome kerning! I won’t bother finishing this lady’s testimony, it’s too easy of a target.

Interrogating the Thief
Shortly after discovering my work on their site I emailed a DMCA letter (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) to LogoGarden.com notifying them of the copyright infringement. It’s also a good idea to send it to the infringing sites hosting service as well, which in this case is rackspace.com. (You can create your own using my template here.)

The other day I finally got an email back from the head weasel himself. You can read the conversation yourself in the image below. (Read in order A, B, and C.)

Needless to say the communication was pointless.

And I’m so sorry to bruise your fragile sense of moral outrage Johnny, but I’m not buying it. You know you infringed and you’re not fooling anyone at taking offense at that comment. Nice try.

My correspondence with John Williams.

Copyright 101
The problem with copyright law is that unless you legally copyright each piece of artwork (every graphic you post within your online portfolio) you have no legal recourse to seek punitive damages no matter what evidence you have. This in my opinion is highly unrealistic for designers like myself. I create hundreds of images a year and I can’t afford to drop $50 on every single one I create? Who can realistically do that other than large multi-national corporations?

Sure I have some of my designs officially copyrighted but most aren’t. Ironically the copyright law states that the copyright by default goes to the creator of the given design and they own the copyright unless it’s been sold to another or created via work for hire etc. But that is a paper tiger that means nothing in the court of law unless you have officially registered the artwork with the US copyright office.

All I can do is send off a DMCA letter that requires the infringer to remove my art from their site and cease and desist using it. They have to act on the letter but as long as they remove the art there is no recourse for seeking any type of usage fees or collecting money on anything they sold using your work.

Those with no scrupples fully understand this and exploit the loop hole as long as they can get away with it.

The Creative Industrial Complex
Whether our industry as a whole wants to admit it or not, design in all it’s various forms is now considered a commodity in the eyes of the public at least. This poor public perception is only facilitated, encouraged, and compounded by the likes of LogoGarden.com.

The growth of the creative industrial complex will only continue to increase with each passing year. These new design ventures will be fueled by unethical people on par with John Williams and they’ll continue to exploit the inadequate copyright laws in order to make a quick buck on other peoples hard work.

Online services like this want to grow their business model to the point that he can flip it and sell it off to a larger corporation. Of course his proof of concept for this is Logoworks.com who was bought out by HP. (Since this post Logoworks.com has gone belly up so maybe the tide is turning?) Here’s a few other companies who degrade our profession IMO:

- 99designs.com
- LogoMaker.com
- CrowdSpring.com

For the Love of Design
I entered this career because I enjoy being creative. I like to create things. I like to think, conceptualize, and form ideas. Draw, develop and execute those ideas with clever creativity and skillful precision. All of this is done in a frame work of helping others achieve their goals and grow their own businesses. It’s rewarding and the fact I get paid to do it is just the icing on the design cake for me.

The infamous copyright infringer.

I suppose people do this because of the love of money. It’s their way to cash in. And as the good book says “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”

I’d suggest they be creative, that means stop stealing other designers work, grab a frickin’ pencil and do your own design.

Keywords: Commentary, Copyright, Rant, LogoGarden.com