Leaders get copied. Artists copy each other and we package it all up and call it a trend or a movement, like the impressionists, or baroque, or whatever. Poets and novelists do the same thing.  Television producers copy good shows to make better show or bad shows, until we get sick of them. Buddy cop movies? Reality TV shows? Kids learn sports by copying: the learners copy the experts.

That’s humanity. It’s great for progress, sometimes not-so-bad for creativity, maybe.

But in business, when you get copied, it sucks. While it’s shabby and usually kind of sleazy, it happens a lot and there’s not a lot of legal protection. If you doubt me, browse the retail shelves somewhere, and see how many packages copy how many other packages. If the victims of the copying could stop it, they would.

So here’s an example that came up recently. One of the two logos pictured here is the logo of Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger, one of the older and most respected blogs around. The other one is the logo of a new blog. You be the judge. This what Darren pointed to from Twitter:

He’s concerned, obviously, that the new logo on top is the same as his tried-and-true logo, on the bottom. What do you think? Does this seem like good business practice? If you were the new one here, would you change your logo?

I am very much not an attorney, so don’t take this as legal knowledge. But I’ve been involved with some of this as a business owner, and I don’t think Darren has a legal solution. Most known software companies have had imitators mimicking packaging and interface, and sales lines, but that’s not actually illegal except in very extreme cases.

It’s just annoying. And, on the part of the imitators, kind of sleazy, in my opinion.

So if you’re interested in this, you might go visit the Facebook site that Darren linked to. The thread starts with Darren saying, tongue obviously in cheek, “So I’m wondering what the story is behind your logo. It looks familiar.” That’s nice understatement.

The answer comes back:

Good question Darren, I think our logo designer had been influenced so much by Problogger.

And that’s all followed by some pointed comments, including:

“Influenced by” is an interesting way of putting it.

This is blatant copy. Don’t let it slide.

Shame on you beamdotmy. Pathetic to say the least.

Wow. Some nerve. Gotta love fakes and thieves.

And it goes on from there. This kind of copying may be legal – like I said, I’m not an attorney, I think it is, barely so, but I’m not sure – but is it good business? What do you think?


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Tim BerryTim Berry
Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.