5 March 2018Copyright

WIPR survey: Does imitation equal flattery?

After a comment from the founder of Anti Copying in Design, WIPR asked its readers whether imitation and infringement can ever be a good thing.

At INTA’s  The Power of Design conference, hosted this week in London, Dids Macdonald claimed that “imitation isn’t flattery if it costs you your business”.

Two-thirds of our readers agree with the sentiment—imitation and infringement are never good things.

“Infringement reduces a brand’s potency. Always a bad thing,” claimed one reader.

Another added that the imitation only benefits the imitator—he or she gets the profits from selling the knock-offs.

“It causes heavy damage to the fashion/luxury industry and most importantly all of the revenues go to criminal associations and support tax evasion, irregular work and even the financing of terrorism,” claimed a reader.

A third of readers offered up the opposing view that infringement and imitation can sometimes be a good thing, particularly where it boosts the image of the brand or product being imitated.

This could occur where a more prestigious brand imitates a less prestigious one.

Balenciaga’s recent imitation of Ikea’s blue bag appeared to boost Ikea’s brand, claimed one reader, “not least because of the savvy marketing campaign Ikea released in response”.

Where the originator is acknowledged, the imitation can be flattering if there’s no commercial gain, noted one reader.

However, they warned: “But so often, as I and many thousands of others have found, imitation is not flattery when it costs you your business. This is the reality.”

Citing the example of costume jewellery, a reader explained that imitation on a creative basis can enhance an industry provided the imitation doesn’t get too close to the original.

A slightly more cynical reader stated: “The imitator gets experience, the infringed [party] gets a reputation and possible damages, and the lawyer gets business.”

For this week's survey, we ask: "The Supreme People’s Court of China has  vowed to increase efforts to tackle the infringement of IP rights. Is China doing enough to protect IP rights?"

Click  here to answer.

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More on this story

26 February 2018   “Imitation isn’t flattery if it costs you your business”, Dids Macdonald said today at the third design-focussed conference hosted by the International Trademark Association.