Protecting your Intellectual Property is nothing new (IP). Companies of all sizes are faced with companies (and governments) stealing their designs and ideas. Some folks view it as a way of doing business — leveraging the work of others for their own professional gain or sales. I once attended a business symposium, and the featured speaker of a Fortune 1000 company blatantly said his company doesn’t invest in R&D. They borrow the work of others. It was shocking to hear.
While some of our biggest challenges come from offshore companies trolling our corporate websites and blog posts to steal our images and ideas, it stings the most when it happens stateside.
Sadly, our industry is not shielded from these unethical practices within our own ranks. As a proud member of the EDPA Board of Directors, I can attest that protecting design IP has been a hot topic for many years. As a group, the EDPA-member companies do a good job for the most part honoring that unwritten rule.
Recently, a Classic distributor was presented with a competitor’s rendering by an end-user and asked to quote the design. The Classic Distributor explained to the end-user that they, along with their manufacturer (Classic in the case), do not partake in the practice of leveraging someone else’s hard work in design. Rather, they would sit down with them, determine their tradeshow marketing needs, and design a version that would meet their needs perfectly.
The client was delighted that the distributor and the manufacturer held that philosophy. Something the end-user was not used to seeing in their own industry.
Closer to Home
Having said that, we all fight these battles each and every day. Domestically and abroad. But it’s the ones closest to home that ave the most sting. An unfortunate example of that happened just this week for us. One of our talented designers put a great deal of work into designing a beautiful linear exhibit for a distributor and their potential customer several months ago. Fast forward to this week, when we saw a LinkedIn update highlighting a beautiful new build. Sadly, it was the very same design but built by some company other than Classic. We don’t know who built it, but we know who sold it, which makes it even more painful since we’ve known them for some time.
Don’t get me wrong. I know there are a lot of “kits” that can look similar from manufacturer to manufacturer. I totally get that. But when it comes to a “ground-up design,” you would hope, as we do, that some integrity would be left in the process.
Even in a stronger economy, when the fruits are fresher than they have been in sometime, there are still those companies more than willing to eat from other people’s plates.
Can anything be done about this on a large scale? Probably not. But I go back to the first example, the one where the Distributor explained to the end-user their ethical stance on the matters of protecting others IP… and still won the business.
How do you protect your designs beyond branding them with your company logos etc.?
It’s an age old question I suppose. But would appreciate your comments and feedback
On a lighter note, this June has been a HOT one! For sales and for weather. We greatly appreciate all the orders, large and small, and the opportunities sent our way. Just a reminder about our Gimme a GiftCard promotion on all inlines. Plus, as I’m sure you saw, we just launched a 100-Day Guarantee on the Sacagawea Hybrid System — An Industry FIRST.
Have a great weekend with your families and a strong work week ahead. July 4th is on the horizon.