Logo No Go?
August 12, 2009 6:09 PM   Subscribe

Paging the MeFi Counterfeit Brigade. Two logos are suspiciously similar. How likely is it that the more recent design was copied?

The new City of Kelowna logo, for which they spent $80,000 (consultation, research, design, etc.) is about to be adopted when, whoops! an astonishingly similar logo (designed two years previously) surfaces. What are the odds that this is a coincidence, especially considering that the first one was published on logolounge.com (scroll down)? Is there a computer design program that would spit out similar Spirograph designs with similar color combinations? Can/should the city copyright a design that is so similar, even though the original may not have a formal coypright? Give me your best sleuthing analysis.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium to Media & Arts (16 answers total)
(1) Copyright is automatic in both Canada and the USA.
(2) My instinct, experience and logic all say: this was very certainly ripped off. The colors, geometry, even the number of triangles is just far too close to be a coincidence.
(3) Mr. Phred Martin should start looking for a new career, or at least a name-change form, because he's toast.
posted by rokusan at 6:21 PM on August 12, 2009

(#2 was my ex-designer and ex-manager of graphic designers voice, by the way. Laziness is one common problem designers have; dishonesty is (sadly) also pretty common. So when something looks like cheating, it probably is.)
posted by rokusan at 6:23 PM on August 12, 2009

A.) The media is already "sleuthing" around on this. They probably have a better nose and better access than anyone here.

B.) This piece describes how the artist was inspired by a pine comb.

C.) It's a circular pattern, the first in a star burst style, the other rounded, both with a spectrum gradient. The only feature which gives me pause are the outward bows of the triangles, and these too could be coincidences.

D.) The same designer submitted eight other designs, it'll be interesting if any of those have uncanny similarities to other work.

Personally I think it's a coincidence, and even if the later artist was "inspired by" or somehow "recalled" the earlier design it's probably not a total rip-off job in the same way that you wouldn't say he's ripping off a pine comb or the rising sun or whatever...

Plus, I'm pretty sure this isn't plagiarism. Copy right infringement, sure - at least that's what the lawyers will claim, but plagiarism requires unattributed reproduction, where as this, if anything is a "creative reinterpretation."
posted by wfrgms at 6:30 PM on August 12, 2009

Wfrgms, paste a copy of one logo on top of the other, notice how they line up almost perfectly, and then say it's a coincidence again with a straight face. :)
posted by rokusan at 6:44 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Neither of them are particularly creative and are easily reproducable. That said, the colors really give it away as a rip to me.. Unless they're both Illustator palette defaults or some such. In any case, both of the designers here seem lazy, and they're lucky they're getting the attention/paychecks they are.
posted by june made him a gemini at 6:46 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: wfrgms, I disagree with your point A.) Did you miss this?
And as for B.) I guess you missed my pine cone tag.
You're right about D.) I'm waiting with bated breath.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:52 PM on August 12, 2009

Phred Martin's portfolio.
posted by carmicha at 7:35 PM on August 12, 2009

Well that website seals it. This guy is clearly a top-notch pro.
posted by rokusan at 8:11 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

It does seem to strain credibility, but from looking at his portfolio, which includes other design material created for the same client, I note that some of the earlier design work has a very similar colour palette to this new logo - which seems to me to go some small way to supporting the coincidence claim.

He should be put up against a wall for spelling his name like that, though.
posted by The Monkey at 8:16 PM on August 12, 2009

So why the heck does Phred Martin's Portfolio move around whenever I move my mouse? The damn thing makes my dizzy just trying to use it. Is there a single UI design theory that advocates making interface elements fly around the screen at the exact same time you're trying to click on them? Not to mention the tooltip that says merely "Splash Design" that pops up if you dare to hold your mouse still anywhere on the page for more than a second using Firefox.
posted by zachlipton at 9:19 PM on August 12, 2009

There's some decent logo work in his portfolio PDF, horrible site though. Whether his other work supports his claim or warrants further closer scrutiny itself, though, is another matter.
posted by empyrean at 9:36 PM on August 12, 2009

How come I have a hell of a time getting big clients to commit to spending real money on a complex design/development problem, and this dude was able to score $80K for what sure seems to be a ripped-off logo? Jeebus.
posted by maxwelton at 9:59 PM on August 12, 2009

Does not pass the smell test. Maybe if it were all, you know, pine-coney colors.

He should be put up against a wall for spelling his name like that, though.

Another suspicious precedent.
posted by dhartung at 12:29 AM on August 13, 2009

Both logos remind me of the BP logo.
posted by iviken at 1:43 AM on August 13, 2009

This happened before. American University hired a designer to make them a logo. It was expensive, and time-consuming.

A few years later, Adelphi University hired the same guy to do their logo. It took him a year, and over $100k, to produce basically the same logo as American.
posted by Citrus at 7:05 AM on August 13, 2009

I have always thought of the new BP logo as a sort of radioactive goatse mosaic.

(And from now on, so will you.)
posted by rokusan at 4:06 PM on August 13, 2009

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