by Roland Murillo
Principal/Creative Director, Murillo Design ::
I guess there are times when some business owners have to ask themselves a simple question, “Do I want to use or buy stolen property for my business?”
If someone pulled up with a big truck and offered stolen office items or merchandise for sale, would you buy it? What if it were dirt cheap? What would be the harm in buying a stolen copier, computer, conference table or desk? What would be the harm in stocking a shelf with product that fell off a truck? Will anyone ever notice or call the authorities? Will you get caught?
There is an obvious risk in such behavior, but we know it is happening somewhere right now. Someone is saving a buck by buying stolen property. The risk is overshadowed by the short-term savings that may seem too good to pass up to some people. The question then becomes, “Does it really help or hurt his or her business?”
Now, what if the thieves that sell the stolen goods are caught by the authorities and have a list naming their customers? Will the business owners (buyers) face legal liabilities, fines or jail time? Will their businesses suffer?
www.logogarden.com is selling stolen property. There are dozens of stolen designs on this site, and they are being sold to (previously) unsuspecting business owners. Because of this, the owners of this site may be held accountable by the courts and laws that protect the logo designers, and the brands that own the lifted identities that are being “re-purposed”. I know of at least three reputable designers that are taking legal action as I write this because I’ve been in contact with them concerning this site. And, at least one of my designs is also on this site, but I will leave it to my former employer to send the “cease and desist” notice.
Another example of why using online logo services is risky. This exact icon was first designed by Gardner Design for Kansas Humane Society . It recently appeared for sale on http://www.logogarden.com. A potential legal liability?
Many of the stolen brand identities are worth thousands, if not millions, in business investment and brand equity. The brand owners will most likely seek reimbursement for infringement, legal fees, lost revenues and royalties. Some of the stolen designs are the sole property of a designer, so there are copyright issues there, as well.
What will that mean to the buyers of these stolen properties? There is an obvious purchasing record, so I guess it’s up to whatever is legal in their state. If they were merely victims of fraud before, they may be knowing participants now because the word is out about logogarden.com. What impact will that have on their business, their related marketing investments and their brand image? Will their reputation be affected? Will they learn from the situation or try another online logo service for their new identity, and risk repeating the offense?
As always, it is best for business owners to find and work with a reputable, talented, seasoned and professional designer. There’s a reason why these bargain bin logo sites have to steal logos to make any money (and logogarden.com is only one of many). Developing good logos, great logos, effective logos, original logos requires a process and a trained skill that cannot be matched with shortcuts or inexperienced designers. A business identity is a customized tool that is shaped specifically to the individual needs of a specific client, product or service.
Our advice for all business owners is to diligently research several design firms in your area, and visit or call their offices to confirm that they are legitimate professionals. If you go online to find your expert, then confirm that they are not crowd-sourced, or outsourcing their service. And, keep in mind that the first indication that someone could be selling stolen brand identities is the offer of the highest level of expertise and service for an unrealistically low price.
Also, we advise all business owners to view their own brand identity for what it is, a unique and valuable piece of company property. It’s an investment that requires serious consideration and it’s an important part of any business’ success. It needs to be protected, so register it via copyright or trademark as soon as possible, so if someone tries to steal it and resell it, you have a way to reclaim it.
As the owner of a design and branding firm, I obviously promote professional logo design to every business owner and am happy to provide it to anyone who values our services. Just as I do, most designers work with their clients on budgets to make it affordable and scale the process to perfectly fit the need or scope. Most business owners know that strong brand identities will not be done in 24 hours nor will they cost $79, so allow the designer a reasonable amount of time and a reasonable budget to work with.
The good news is that this is not an industry problem. Reputable designers will never be like those online logo services for one simple reason. Reputable designers won’t ever lift or sell stolen property as they are the originators of the goods that others want to steal. And, as a result, business owners will always know that what is delivered is not only a powerful business tool, it is also theirs and theirs alone.