evajohannastudios

Imitation is the highest form of flattery…

…or?

One of the first pieces I designed for my old label “Sparkling Follies” was a little crown called “Lilja”. The first edition of it was pretty soon sold to a customer in Finland, but I kept the photo on my webpage as reference, in case another customer might like something similar.

In 2007 I was surfing the internet checking out the “competition”, and suddenly I was looking at something that looked very much like my crown Lilja in NIXA’s 2007 collection of bridal accessories. (You can see both my work and their crown in a photo at the bottom of this post). NIXA was then, and still is I believe, the largest company on the Swedish bridal market.  First I got upset, then I became sad that they hadn’t tried to buy the design from me, and after that I got really angry and contacted a lawyer. I was lucky enough to find one of the best Swedish copyright lawyers, and he was very willing to help me – and for a good price too. He told me from the start not to hope for any monetary gain from the process, the best I could hope for was to have NIXA’s crown taken off the market. Then started a rather interesting letter exchange between my lawyer and NIXA.

After the first warning letter they said they didn’t think their crown looked much like mine at all, and they claimed that they had bought the design from Hongkong and had never heard of me (which might be true, but the design was still very close to mine).

After the second warning letter from my lawyer, they wrote that I had no proof that I had designed my crown Lilja before they had bought their design in Hongkong, This wasn’t true, and I could prove it.

After the third warning letter, they suddenly decided they had made a mistake in buying the design from Hongkong to begin with. It didn’t sell very well in the stores, they said, and wasn’t very nice looking anyway – so they pulled it from the market. And that’s exactly how they explained it in their letter to my lawyer!

My lawyer told me it was a victory for us, and that it was more than he had dared to hope for. They had put the blame on bad sales results, we suspected, so they could get it off the market without having to confess to using my design. This meant we could not take the claim further but I was happy with the result anyway, even if it left me slightly poorer. I felt a little bit like David winning against Goliath – I didn’t exactly knock them out, but at least I think I made their knees tremble a little.

I now own one of the NIXA crowns, I couldn’t make myself pay for it, but a bride bought it for me and traded it for a necklace that I made for her. That way it wasn’t my money that paid for the thing. Sort of. I keep it as a memento.

So did I feel flattered? No obviously not. I still wish they had asked me to sell the design to them, I would probably have let them have it much too cheap, since I would have been very pleased to be asked by such an important company.

I really do NOT appreciate being copied, whether it was by NIXA or their Hongkong partner.

I love being someones inspiration though, as long as they take their inspiration and make something original with it. That makes me feel flattered and very happy too.

So, here’s my original at the top, and Nixa’s similar crown at the bottom. I’m especially “impressed” by the tag that says “Designed for you by NIXA – Swedish Design” as they said the design was bought in Hongkong and their crowns were also produced there…

7 comments on “Imitation is the highest form of flattery…

  1. Tanith
    July 28, 2013

    Liars, liars, pants on fire…it looks exactly the same, albeit a poor rendition of your design. Your work is lovely.

    • johannalundqvist
      July 28, 2013

      Thank you Tanith! Yes, you can imagine how angry I got when I first discovered “their” design…

  2. typh222
    August 1, 2013

    Hello 🙂 First, let me say that I absolutely LOVE your work. You are a very talented artist! Second, I am so sorry that you had to experience this! After looking at both of these photos, it is SO VERY obvious that they completely ripped off your design. Knowing a bit about how corporate attorneys operate, I am not surprised (at all) that they approached this whole situation in the manner that they did. …So very weasel-y… I am an artist as well (jewelry, acrylic paintings: landscape & pets) and while I have not personally had anyone copy my work, I always think about writer, Paulo Coehlo (The Alchemist) and his take on being copied or on having his works taken for free from the internet. He believes, innately, that the universe truly conspires to assist us with what we’re pursuing. ~If I think about copying or plagiarism in this manner, I feel that anyone who rips off another artist’s work will have limited, if any, success at all. They did not go through the creative process. They are not pursuing the dream. The success, even if they have some monetary gain, does not belong to them and therefore, cannot stay with them for very long. ~Whether the attorney for NIXA was being on the level with you or not, I find it very interesting that he mentioned the “limited success” they were having in selling the crown…

    In any case, I wish you nothing but the success and happiness in your work. I look forward to seeing new creations soon! 😉

    I create Renaissance, Victorian, and Art Deco inspired jewelry and have some of my pieces for sale on Etsy:
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/HerebyCrowned?ref=si_shop

    Please stop by for a visit 😉

    Kind Regards,
    Tiffaney Caldwell

  3. typh222
    August 1, 2013

    Hello 🙂

    First, let me say that I absolutely LOVE your work. You are a very talented artist! Second, I am so sorry that you had to experience this! After looking at both of these photos, it is SO VERY obvious that they completely ripped off your design. Knowing a bit about how corporate attorneys operate, I am not surprised (at all) that they approached this whole situation in the manner that they did. …So very weasel-y… I am an artist as well (jewelry, acrylic paintings: landscape & pets) and while I have not personally had anyone copy my work, I always think about writer, Paulo Coehlo (The Alchemist) and his take on being copied or on having his works taken for free from the internet.

    He believes, innately, that the universe truly conspires to assist us with what we’re pursuing. ~If I think about copying or plagiarism in this manner, I feel that anyone who rips off another artist’s work will have limited, if any, success at all. They did not go through the creative process. They are not pursuing the dream. The success, even if they have some monetary gain, does not belong to them and therefore, cannot stay with them for very long. ~Whether the attorney for NIXA was being on the level with you or not, I find it very interesting that he mentioned the “limited success” they were having in selling the crown…

    In any case, I wish you nothing but the success and happiness in your work. I look forward to seeing new creations soon! 😉

    I create Renaissance, Victorian, and Art Deco inspired jewelry and have some of my pieces for sale on Etsy:
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/HerebyCrowned?ref=si_shop

    Please stop by for a visit 😉

    Kind Regards,
    Tiffaney Caldwell

    • johannalundqvist
      August 1, 2013

      Hi Tiffaney!

      Thanks for your kind words, and yes, I hope fate makes sure people who claim others designs as their own will not prosper from at least those designs in the end.

      I really like your work, I think your designs are some of the best I’ve seen in this particular style. I like your eye and feeling for proportions and detail.

      I don’t post often enough here on my blog, but if you want to follow my work closer, i reccommend my facebook page as well. You can find it here:

      https://www.facebook.com/evajohanna.arts.crafts

      Take care,

      Johanna

  4. Jessica Girven
    August 6, 2013

    You know how much I adore your work, I am so happy to own a number of your pieces. As an artist I have also had my work stolen. Many years ago I designed a set of clothing for a band who were on the ozzfest tour, fast forward a few months and I see MY jacket being sold at hot topic in every mall in America. It broke my heart, that jacket was designed for a specific person for his personality and stage persona. Not for every little pimple faced goth wanna be. I stopped sewing professionally for a long time, and stopped keeping a portfolio, I got so mad every time someone wanted me to remake something I already made for someone else. Then they would get mad at me, and say well I am paying you, you should make what I want you to make. I am an artist not Walmart, I dont need their money and I dont want to create for people who dont appreciate it. Art should be unique, should have its own personality and soul. And as an artist I dont mind protecting my art.

    • johannalundqvist
      August 6, 2013

      I so agree with what you say, Jessica! It’s a pity that you was driven to stop creating professionally, I stopped too for a while, when I wasn’t so dependant on my art as my mean of income. Now I just have to suck it up. But I stay proud and will not copy either my own work if it was a special order and ABSOLUTELY not other people’s designs! It happens that people send me a picture from someone’s Etsy shop or web shop and ask me to make a copy, my answer is always no, and that they should buy it from the original artist.

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This entry was posted on July 14, 2012 by in Bridal jewellery.

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Johanna Lundqvist Lawrence
// Frankenstr. 9,
90762 Fürth,
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// evajohannalundqvist
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