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Drawing the line

January 10th, 2012

Is any design that looks somewhat like yours necessarily stolen from you? When to be genuinely alarmed, and when to calm down?

As you might know, Logo Bee has been at the receiving end of logo design theft and we have no mercy for thieves. For instance, LogoGarden, the company that has swiped a multitude of logo designs straight from other designers and sold them to clients barely tweaking a line or two. Nevertheless, there is only so many concepts in existance, and the same general idea for a logo might appear in two unrelated works by accident.

Lately, there has been a controversy around Ophelia Chong, designer and illustrator who intends to sue Starbucks for allegedly stealing her flame-shaped design. However, has there been theft at all?

Not going to lie, the works DO share the same general shape and color pallette, but when it comes right down to it, it's stylized flames, not exactly the most uncommon subject. Ms. Chong's artwork has a lot of details and patterns inside, paintings of people inside the fire, and so on. Starbucks' is just... flames. The shape may be similar, but the message that comes across is completely different. Ms. Chong's art has deep philosophical implications, while Starbucks, well, they advertise french roast and that's all there is to it. Compare to Logo Bee's logos stolen by LogoGarden you can see in one of our previous articles. THAT's blatant theft. They have been only very slightly altered, clearly a very poor attempt to avoid lawsuits.

Point is, you can hardly call this design "stolen". At worst, I could accept it might be somewhat inspired by her works, but wouldn't that be an honor, rather than a crime?

UPDATE: LogoBee has recently received a message from Ophelia Chong. The designer has reassured us that she has decided to abandon the case against Starbucks, since on second thought she is not as certain anymore that her design was really stolen. We're glad that this issue has finally been resolved without being taken to court, which would most likely have caused a great deal of stress to her and, in my opinion, would probably not have solved much since Starbucks' design, again, is not a clear ripoff of her work.

 On behalf of the entire LogoBee team, we wish Ms. Chong success in her further artistic endeavors.

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