I decided to do an article for our blog about "Creative Idea Theft", because as artisans we will all deal with having our ideas stolen at some point. It is so frustrating to have this happen because you put so much of yourself into your creative thinking. To have someone come along and look at what you have done and go, "Oh I love that, I'm going to do it", and then they turn around and make and sell the very same thing, is very disheartening.
I have had people say that I should take it as a compliment that someone likes my designs enough to copy them.......well I don't.........I look at it as theft.
And that's not to say that it isn't ok to follow trends and styles or to see a "look" that you like and then come up with your own designs in relation to that style, but to "copy" what someone else has spent time and mental energy on is just wrong. It's very unprofessional and unethical.
How can we protect ourselves from this? Unfortunately, it is almost impossible. You cannot copyright an idea, only a tangable product and to get a copyright for each and everything you make would be expensive and very time consuming. So, I guess all we can do is hope that there are not too many unethical people out there.
I know everytime I do a show there will be at least one person that says to their friend, "Oh, I can make that". They probably won't though - at least not to sell. But for people who are in the business of selling what they make and they turn around and start selling what they have copied -- it's just wrong.