The Intellectual Property Gods are at it again. Egging Marketman on, in yet another “jerk magnet” moment (a phrase coined by reader “Toping”) of nearly incomprehensible coincidences. I arrived in Cebu a few hours ago and got to the office. After an hour or two, a call to the Zubuchon phone line is answered, and a lady from the Marriott Hotel in Cebu asks if we would be interested in participating in an organic weekend market in December. She is told to fax details. The fax arrives. And the event is sponsored by the “Ayala Business Club of Cebu” together with the Marriott Hotel. Pretty established names, I thought. And the market is called “simply organic weekend market.” BUT wait a moment, look at their logo! Doesn’t it look familiar? Are they kidding me? Shall I have lunch first before I give them a call and ask who designed their market logo? Yes, lunch first so I am less likely to bite someone’s head off…
During lunch, I review all the materials. Yes the size of the basket and proportion look exactly the same. The shadows are the same, the trailing line of the basket base is the same, the handles are at the same angle and so is the shadow/back handle. The veggies have been altered. I think I have a reason to call them. So I call the lady from the Marriott back, and ask her who designed their logo. I explain that I believe the design was copied from another source, and she gives me the name of their Graphics/Design/Signage supplier, Red Tag, and a contact person. I call the contact person, to whom I explain the situation, she says I must talk to the designer, who asks me the same questions. I ask where they found the basket in the logo, and they eventually admit they copied it off the internet. I tell them the original belongs to marketmanila, and I am the person behind marketmanila and I consider their actions to be a violation of my intellectual property rights. They stutter. Did they think to try using a bayong as the basis for their design? Did they even know what a french market basket (made in Morocco) looked like in real life? Finally, a manager or senior person is put on the line, he asks for time to investigate and talk with his staff. And then an hour later, the Marriott lady calls to apologize on behalf of the designer and the hotel. She says the designer “took inspiration” from marketmanila’s logo. I tell her I thought it was “stolen,” not inspired. And she didn’t refute the point. I asked her if the designer “stole” the logo of Honda or Mercedes and just added an eggplant would it simply be taking inspiration? I thought to myself, what if I took the Marriott’s own “M” logo and simply added on “arketman” would their phalanx of corporate lawyers come after me?
At any rate, I know it isn’t the Marriott’s fault, but it is by admission, the graphic designer’s fault. So I gamely accept the apology, after they reassure me that the logo will be immediately changed, and that all PR materials including flyers, letter, signage, tarpaulins, etc. are changed to remove the basket. End of story. But really, what are the chances that a graphic designer based in Cebu, surfing the net, would decide to “copy” a logo of marketmanila.com (rather than say marketzimbabwe.biz), then give it to a client hotel where I happen to have stayed many, many times in the past (but not recently), and that client chooses to send solicitation letters directly to my office using the blasted logo? Six degrees of separation?!? I hope the designer at least learned an important lesson today. DO NOT STEAL SOMEONE ELSE’S LOGO.
P.S., I just spoke with the owner of Red Tag, and as I have said before, I think both the Marriott and Red Tag management completely understand the issue and have made appropriate apologies that have been fully accepted. I explained that I thought this was an excellent “teaching opportunity” for graphic artists and other staff members of the company and he agreed. The graphic artist has also been spoken to by management, and overall, I would like to look on the bright side of this incident. As usual, my motto has to be, if something goes wrong, SPEAK UP, and hopefully something good will come out of it. Just as the internet has made it easier for people to access so much more information, so is the internet the tool to disseminate information as well. Many thanks to all involved. CASE CLOSED.