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Plagiarism in the Design Industry

Plagiarism has always been a problem for designers, and has been the cause of many legal claims being made over the years.  This inevitably causes a lot of fuss and bother for the alleged victim.  For example, in order to successfully claim breach of copyright the claimant needs to prove that copying has occurred; that they were the original author/designer, and that the piece that was copied was sufficiently original to merit protection in the first place.  And for “passing off” there needs to be actual evidence of confusion and damage (such as loss of profits or harm to reputation).  IP rights such as registered design rights and trade marks can be more easily protected – but of course, there is always the additional issue of legal costs lurking in the background, too!

Tatty Devine may have avoided all of this trouble and expense, however – simply by publishing a blogpost entitled “Can You Spot the Difference?”  They displayed an image of one of their own necklaces featuring a dinosaur design (which retail at £132) alongside some suspiciously similar-looking dinosaur necklaces being sold by Claire’s Accessories (being sold for £4).  After tweeting the blogpost to its 13,000 followers, all Tatty Devine had to do was to sit back and await the response!

Claire’s Accessories Facebook page was then inundated by posts from the general public complaining about how they had been “blatently ripping off” Tatty Devine’s designs, and that Claire’s should “be ashamed of [themselves]”.

Rosie Wolfenden, one of Tatty Devine’s two owner/directors stated in an interview with the Guardian newspaper, “We feel this is the best way to deal with copycats, as it puts the issue in the public domain and lets customers decide.”

Of course, Tatty Devine are lucky enough to have already secured a large fan base.  For smaller, lesser well-known businesses, it is a much greater problem when competitors copy their designs.  If you have any concerns on this subject, please contact us at

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