When I posted yesterday about Urban Outfitters using the designs of a small business owner with out attribution little did I realize the story would end up at Boing-Boing and The Huffington Post. It shows the power of people talking, and spreading the word. A friend who is a nurseryman commented yesterday. He said, "There seems to be a question of who came up with the design originally. People are stating that these 'I Heart State' pendants have been on the market long before I make Shiny Things came up with the idea. I feel that if you are a small business and you come up with an original idea that you wouldn’t want someone to steal, then you should patent or trademark that idea or product. Being a small business is no excuse to be ignorant of being a good business person and protecting yourself your ideas and your original products.
Trey, if I hybridized a really cool original daylily, let’s say a Red Stella De Oro with variegated folige, and I just started selling it on the market without patenting it, and then all of the wholesale nurseries started picking it up and selling it and then I started crying foul what would you think? You would say 'Wow Keith, I feel bad for you. Why didn’t you patent it? Sucks for you man!'"
Fair enough, but things have changed. Now the small hybridizer like yourself can spread the word about what happened. Here is my answer to my friends comment.
" Yea it sucks. But you know what, I would be pissed off with you. Sure there we’re no laws broken, but still. If that happened to you perhaps you would Tweet your displeasure, and I would pick up on that. I write a blog post on your situation, meanwhile others are Tweeting their displeasure. Next thing you know Boing_Boing has picked up on it. Now I seeThe Huffington Post has picked up the story. Is it right or wrong? Was it right or wrong of these wholesale nurseries to take your hybrid? It’s all grey. The point is, there is something you can do now to get your story out, where as in the past it was a lot harder. Seems that lady is selling her jewelry out as we speak, and a lot of people know about her business now, and know about Urban Outfitters, too."
Right or wrong companies that do stuff that is legal, but a bit nefarious, are going to get called out. How they respond to the that will reflect on their companies for a long time.