People are totally not going to be able to tell the difference from TV network FXX and ExxonMobil’s logos. The proof? Someone said it on the internet.
Scraps between companies over similar (and sometimes not so similar) logos aren’t anything new. Happens all the time, but occasionally, there’s a dust-up that I find interesting. This one for example.
Seems ExxonMobil has filed suit against 20th Century Fox asserting that their newly-launched FXX network is using a logo that too closely resembles the Exxon interlocked ‘X’s. One of their claims is that the logo sows “marketplace confusion.” Sure thing. Cause every new Tee Vee network, especially a comedy-centric one like FXX, wants to be associated with a big oil and gas company. In fact, the biggest oil and gas company.
According to Variety, ExxonMobil is claiming that the new logo “makes it look as if FXX is affiliated with Exxon.” Their proof? As part of the suit, the oil company submitted screen captures and quotes from several websites where folks were kvetching about the new design. On page 8 of its complaint, ExxonMobil cites their internet postings:
A comment on NeoGAF.com by user GungHo copying the FXX logo from a previous post and asking, “Were they inspired by the Exxon logo?”
A comment on AVclub.com by user The Enchanted Goatee, stating “It looks like a misprinted Exxon logo. ”
A comment on TV.com from user JT_Kirk who says, ”That FXX logo has to go, that is awful on a plate,” adding “Exxon is going to be pissed.”
A comment on HeapersHangout.com from user lee4hmz, asking, “[W]ho thought it was a good idea to rip off Exxon?”
Cause you know, if you read it on the interwebs, it has to be true. As could be predicted, FXX sez that the complaint is total codswallop: “We are confident that viewers won’t tune into FXX looking for gas or motor oil and drivers won’t pull up to an Exxon pump station expecting to get It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,” a rep for the company said in a statement emailed to the Deadline website.
If nothing else, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s recent foray into design crowdsourcing illustrates its inherent arrogance as well as the power imbalance between designers and those that hope to exploit them.
Back in the day, I wasn’t terribly opposed to fan-based design contests for posters, logos and what have you. Used to be a nice way for bands and sports teams to develop a sense of community among their fans and to give those fans a chance to support their favorite causes. Hell, my first paying gig – a princely sum of $100 – was designing a logo for my high school radio station as part of a school-wide contest. I get it.
Of course, that was before the rise of exploitative design contest websites, when companies like Crowdspring and 99designs began to cash in and commercialize a previously organic concept, offering design contests for every purpose imaginable – from logos to websites, T-shirt designs to posters. All for a percent of the winning designers’ wages and a contest listing fee. After that, all design contests became taboo – a sort of ‘zero tolerance’ – at least among a good chunk of the design community, and now every contest – regardless of its intent or participant – runs the risk of being scorned and protested via social media, blogs and websites. It was into that landscape that Dallas Maverick owner Mark Cuban wandered, announcing a contest to design the Mavs’ new uniforms on Twitter (above) and via his blog here (fair warning: there are hundreds and hundreds of comments so the page takes forever to load.) The criticism was swift, in the comments section of the blog announcement, on Twitter, design blogs, and even articles in the mainstream sports media.
Anyone remember the dust-up about do-it-yourself logo creation site Logogarden and their allegedly purloined logos? Concluded to everyone’s satisfaction? Maybe not.
Let’s go back a few years, to the summer of 2011, when the design community blew up the internet over do-it-yourself logo design site Logogarden and it’s database that seemed to be full of logo templates consisting of other designers’ work. Remember that nasty little kerfluffle? If not, you can catch up here, here and here – I’ll wait. The situation was so ludicrous, I was able to purchase the WWF panda logo for a paltry 69 bucks (and was refused a refund when I pointed out that the copyright – and trademark – of the design belonged to the World Wildlife Federation.) Suffice to say, this translated into a world of schadenfreude, the end result of which was a mea culpa by Logogarden officials stating that “some symbols in (Logogarden’s) vast symbol library were copies of existing work” and that Logogarden “would remove any offending symbols as they were spotted.”
They went to claim that they themselves had been duped by “a small handful of dishonest design brokers” who had been paid to provide “strictly original work.” And, it would seem, failed epically. Anyhoo, Logogarden promised to clean out their database of “all offending symbols” and the controversy died down as we moved into the Fall of 2011. Guess we all thought the situation, such as it was, resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. I mean, the symbols had been deleted from the logo maker’s database, right? Well. maybe not. Here’s a looksee at the e-mail I found in my spam laden in-box this morning.
Less than a year ago I told you about HP shutting down Logoworks. Seems plans have changed. Apparently, the Utah-based company is open for business again, this time under new management. According to the Small Biz Trends website, Logoworks has been bought up by New York based growth equity firm Oldslip. The purchase of Logoworks from HP included the technology, trademark, and domain name, though a spokesman wouldn’t divulge the purchase price. At present, the remnants of Logoworks are a “handful of employees and a dozen or so external designers,” but Oldslip plan to “grow it back to its former glory, bit by bit.”
As designers, we believe that copyright is a trump card for those who would steal our work. Maybe so, but it can be an expensive trump card as Modern Dog Design Studio is now finding out.
Seattle based designers Robynne Raye and Michael Strassburger of the Modern Dog Design Company have launched a lawsuit in which they allege that artwork from their book, Modern Dog: 20 Years of Poster Art, was used on T-shirts without their permission (sadly, a not uncommon occurrence). The alleged culprits? Some pretty heavy hitters. at least according to the complaint filed by the design company in October of last year The cost of the proceedings? Their Greenwood studio which had to be sold in order to finance some of the legal wrangling and mounting costs. In addition, they’ve set up a fundraising site, Friends of Modern Dog, hopefully to raise enough money to see the lawsuit through and and to keep their company from going bankrupt. The company could use a few shekels, if you’re into that whole David vs. Goliath thing. Donate here.