Tuesday 30 September 2014

My Designs Stolen

Christopher Tan has never released any of his designs as commercially available products. All products using his designs that you currently see being sold commercially are blatant theft of his designs. 

Something has been bugging me lately. There seems to be a sudden surge in the number of companies and small businesses stealing my designs and commercialising them. Here is a look at just some of the many China companies that stolen my designs:

As if that wasn't bad enough, quite a few small businesses have also gotten in on the action. They buy loose bricks from China and pack it themselves.

Sold in Thailand
Sold in Hong Kong

What you see above are just a few examples, there are actually a lot more out there! This is just utterly ridiculous. Everyone seems to be profiting from my designs, except me! 

Yes, I know, the first thing many of you would tell me is that I should copyright my designs. Well, they are in fact copyrighted. Malaysia is a signatory to the Berne Convention, so all artistic works are automatically copyrighted. That isn't really the issue here. Trying to take legal action against these people however will require a lot of money and what little money you can recover from them even if you win just makes this a futile effort. 

And yes, some of you said maybe I should not release the build instructions for my designs in order to stop these pirates. Well, truth is, reverse engineering a design from photos is actually quite easy. It probably takes me only 20-30% longer to build something without instructions, and I know many members of my nanoBuilders group are also capable of doing it. So, yeah, if a pirate really wants to steal a design, they don't need the instructions. 

The hard part is coming out with the design. Once the design is out, reverse engineering the instruction is simple. Take a painter for example, like Leonardo da Vinci. Coming out with an iconic masterpiece like the Mona Lisa is the hard part. After that, anyone with decent painting skills can look at his painting and create a copy, but it doesn't mean that they can create an original masterpiece that will also be just as iconic as the Mona Lisa. 

On streets in Shanghai

It's quite an ironic situation to be in. My designs are now sold everywhere around the world. I know it's selling like hot cakes in night markets in China, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, etc. and you will find it online on eBay, Amazon, Taobao, etc. And yet, most of these people have no idea they are my designs.

Please realise that when you buy these stolen designs, you are encouraging these China companies to continue stealing my work, and they are hurting me as an artist. 

I guess I should look on the positive side and be happy that my designs are bringing joy to lots of people out there and that my designs are being stolen because it is worth stealing. But once it a while ... it still bugs the crap out of me >.<

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