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Someone stole my design

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by klingsdesigns, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. klingsdesigns

    klingsdesigns Very Active Member

    Apr 16, 2012
    I am sure this has been posted in the past. I know it doesnt just happen to me.

    I spent 2 hours designing a store front window for a company and changing their logo a bit. Went to their store and showed them samples of colors for the vinyl.
    Havent heard from them for a while after i told them prices over email.
    Tonight i drove past the place and it was all lettered up exactly how i had it designed.
    What would you guys do send them an invoice for the two hours design time?

    Whats your input?
  2. 2B

    2B Very Active Member

    May 5, 2011
    no deposit no design - will be the reply you get.

    how did they get the proof?
    Was there are watermark on the proof?

    did you tell them that is the design/layout was an additional fee regardless if they got the products from you or not?

    Regardless you will more than likely chalk this up as a "learning experience" and don't make the same mistake again.
  3. Bigcat_hunter

    Bigcat_hunter Member

    Dec 15, 2012
    I have to deal with counterfeiters every few months. I sell a s#it ton of stickers and sharks see that and try to steal my art work.

    I suggest to call the state BAR association and get recommendation for a good copyright lawyer. I have a good lawyer and do pay him well and he is worth every penny.

    I have to pay my attorney every few months but it more than secures the money I would be losing otherwise. Don't let someone else profit from your hard work. Good luck.
  4. Air Art Girl

    Air Art Girl Very Active Member

    Nov 26, 2006
    I will often work up a quick design without a deposit but I include a disclaimer with the art work. I have had a shirt design stolen and went after them. I got the $500 listed in the disclaimer but was ready to go to small claims on it where I would have also asked for more then just the $500 unauthorized use and would have gotten it. I was glad it settled but not happy it even happened.
  5. Techman

    Techman Major Contributor

    Jun 24, 2003
    just go over there and present him with a friggin bill. He stole your stuff. So go kick his butt.
  6. FS-Keith

    FS-Keith Active Member

    Dec 4, 2010
    I would send an invoice
  7. HDvinyl

    HDvinyl Trump 2020

    Nov 20, 2008
    halfway house.
    Some morons (customers) think if their company name is on it, they own it.
  8. signage

    signage Major Contributor

    Oct 5, 2005
    Rule number one no design without a deposit!

    Also make sure you have watermarked and disclaimer your own all rights until released in writing!
  9. bob

    bob Major Contributor

    Nov 4, 2005
    You own the copyright to the material via the Berne convention of, I think, 1989. If you have files showing the image that show a creation date that pre-dates anyone else's files you are the owner and proprietor of the image. You're entitled at least to your design fee.

    File in small claims court. Have the summons served by professionals, most sheriffs in most jurisdictions provide this service for a modest fee. Whatever you do, do not serve it yourself or have a friend or family have a go at it. Don't worry overmuch about the filing and service fees, you'll get them back when you prevail, and you will prevail.

    When you go to court to present your case have with you prints of screen shot showing the contents of the file containing the image with a window showing the file's creation date. Also be sure to print a copy of the Berne convention, readily available on-line, and present it along with your screen shot as evidence supporting your claim. The reason for a copy of the Berne convention is that most small claims judges can not be expected to automatically know of it.

    You will win. Been there, done that. Once you have a judgement the other party either pays up or you do whatever it takes in your village to file a lien on the business and all of its assets, essentially shutting them down. They will pay, trust me. Been there, done that as well.
  10. Joe Diaz

    Joe Diaz Very Active Member

    Another vote for no sketch or design without a deposit. This does a few things:

    A. It compensates you a little for the time and effort you are going to put into their project. So if they do end up using someone else, and if you have a hard time collecting payment for your work and ideas, at least you aren't left with nothing, and you can decide whether it's worth it or not to pursue the remaining balance.

    B. Winning in small claims is made easier when you have a record that the customer has paid for part of the job.

    C. Since they have invested in your services by paying a down payment, the chances they see the project through at your shop is much greater. It's much more unlikely that someone actually hires and pays someone to do part of a job and then hire and pay someone else to copy what the first person did and do the rest of the job.

    D. It establishes that your ideas, your expertise, your sketch or design work, has value. If you don't collect payment before doing the work, it may give some the impression that design or sketch work is simply "thrown in" as a way to try to sell the job, therefor it has less value to you and them.
  11. Pat Whatley

    Pat Whatley Major Contributor

    Sep 29, 2003
    Wetumpka, AL
    How close is it actually to your design? You hear people talk about "stolen designs" a lot then when they post the design it's just three lines of block lettering that's so generic it wouldn't qualify as 'stolen'.
  12. signage

    signage Major Contributor

    Oct 5, 2005
    Good point Pat that is why I have rule #1 no design/sketch without deposit!
  13. D&Tgraphics

    D&Tgraphics Very Active Member

    May 17, 2007
    Lockport, NY
    I agree with Pat. How close is the design? How much "design" was there? But main thing is no deposit no design! Joe said it best, you need to put a value on the design part.
  14. ironchef

    ironchef Very Active Member

    May 1, 2012
    Miami, FL
    Lets see what you designed, and their original logo
  15. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    More than likely, the OP here, felt he wouldn't get the job without providing some sort of artwork upfront and might've been asked to do so. So, in keeping the customer happy, just handed the artwork over without asking for a deposit or art cost.

    This happens to everyone from time to time. We all get caught with out guard down and then feel embarrassed to ask for what is rightfully due us.

    As mentioned, never give anything out without prior agreements on how every aspect of the project is going to take place. In this case, if the artwork does in fact resemble yours closely, you should be able to simply reason with the guy and explain to him in one or two sentences, that he felt good enough to accept your artwork, but not your costs for executing the actual job. So be it, but the fact remains, it's still my design and layout. You feel it only right that the cost of $275.00 will be his invoice and you would like to collect it now. If he refuses to pay or send a check later, simply tell him, the design has already been used and abused and you will take it to small claims court where he will instantly have to pay all costs for this procedure. Should he care to go this route, you will sue for everything due you including all costs/court-costs and attorney fees if needed to claim what is rightfully yours.
  16. klingsdesigns

    klingsdesigns Very Active Member

    Apr 16, 2012
    Here is my file and their window now.
    What do you guys do when you send a proof can i see examples of your disclaimer, and do you have a contract with the deposit?

    Attached Files:

  17. In the late 1980's, I was a typesetter. The local printshop could not print a single sheet without coming to me, or someone like me, first.

    Imagine that.

    Back then, design had real tangible and undeniable value.

    What has happened?

    Has the advent of the personal computer diminished the value of design? Has the availability of clipart, typefaces, pre-designed layouts in MS Publisher and MS Word lead the average customer to believe that access to this capability indicates that since he can do it for free, we as designers should too?

    Could it be that the ubiquitous nature of free graphics on the Google do in fact make design an easier process and diminished the overall value?

    Could it be this industry is full of entrepreneurs who have no design ability and do not see the value of a simple layout, a quick logotype thrown together to the satisfaction of the local barber shop?

    Could it be that graphic providors are so anxious to "land that job", that they will in fact give the design away?

    I have had many customers suggest I should design a pair of magnets for free in order to sell them. How can you print a pair of magnetic signs if no one is paid to do the design? Time is money, so someone is always paid to do the design. Our time has value.

    If none of us ever gave away design, or our time, some of that value might return.

    If none of us gave away design, the customer might sit down at the computer and do it himself and see what it takes. he might even come to us with the art in hand, making our job a little easier, and reducing our overhead.

    Never give design away. I never have and I hope I never have to.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2013
  18. Christian @ 2CT Media

    Christian @ 2CT Media Major Contributor

    Jun 15, 2009
    Mesa, Arizona
    Wow, thats a copy - paste!
  19. ThinkRight

    ThinkRight Active Member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Atlanta Ga
    You don't know any thugs that need to release some pent up anger ?
    50 bucks and a brick would make this discussion a moot point .
    / sarc
    Just kidding.
    Take them to court.
    And if they are a member of the chamber , go that route also.
    Spread the word that they are unsavory characters .
    Karma is unreliable when you have to put food on the table.
    Sue them.

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