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Advice for copied work


12 months ago I send a furniture design to a company who later told me they are very interested in the design. I met with the company and over the past 6 months I've been contacting them for updates. Over the past 3 months the company haven't replied to me and have recently launched a new range of furniture that looks similar to my own work.

I also sent some other work 3 months ago and they said some pieces were interesting and some of the items (a different range entirely) is not of interest to them. Earlier today I visited their website to find that they have manufactured a VERY similar collection of products which they told me they have no interest in.

I've since emailed the company but I don't expect a reply anytime soon. (they take months to reply)

None of my designs have been 'protected' by design rights but that's not really needed as far as I understand. (all work is copyright)

I'm not looking to sue the company or take legal action (I have no money), but they have knowingly done wrong here and need to be caught up in it. All of my work has been emailed to the design manager and so I assume it's their responsibility to not infringe on my own design.

I would greatly appreciate any advice here. I'm not interesting in using social media to get their attention but something has to be done.


Staff member
Honestly... If you are new to design, learn from it and move on.

You sent additional work to a company for free 3 months ago KNOWING that they weren't responding etc, which was daft if I'm being blunt and you didn't protect any work sent to them.

Also last time I checked (ie I could be out of date here) your idea/concept does not fall under copyright protection, the graphics/imagery used to present it would be but the actual idea/concept would not be. The concepts needs to be 'design registered' for you to retain any rights etc.

This might help more
I assumed I'd get that response, fuled by my username... I don't really see how my age or experience has leverage in having a large company get away with stealing my ideas or not. I would think if was a huge corporation it would be different but still, it's 2015 and these things don't make much difference in my view.

Anyway, the reason I've been told that the progress is slow is because of the costs of producing the manufacturing tools and price limit they can allow a customer to pay means compromising my design. Apparently, even in China this takes time. Also, it probably was silly to send more work but I'd rather chance a 'No' than have months of hard work stuck on a hard drive because of fear. I've absolutely no way of manufacturing this furniture myself - I already looked into it and tooling alone is over £10K.

Again, out of no money I decided not to pay £100+ to register each product. Perhaps naive of me to believe the company when I asked about other companies copying my work, but they said there is very little one can do to stop copies being made. (Just look at the Eames chairs). BUT, to have a designer whom they intend to pay royalties to send work out of their own pocket in developing it, then as the end part of the business to copy that design is just wrong. I doubt it makes any difference but they also sent me the contract to sign, however since prototyping hasn't taken place, I didn't want to sign any sub-quality product away.

Even if it was a different industry or situation, should they be allowed to just get away with this and reap millions(£) more?


Staff member
I'm not taking the side of the company here but to me everything you're saying says the fault lies with you not them.

Simply put it IS your lack of experience that is causing these issues, it's not age related, it's lack of knowledge on how the 'system' works.

You took notice of a company regarding stuff being copied, never EVER rely on one source of information when it comes to legal stuff (get a lawyer if needed)... there's loads that can be done, for example the Eames chairs you refer to are actually produced under license.... the link I gave you is an option to ensure that you control the rights to the design. I'm pretty sure there are other avenues too but I'm not a legal expert.

You have had a contract offered to you and have NOT signed it or contested it's contents (ie better deal etc). Now I don't have access to the contract etc but you get the idea.

So far from my perspective (note we have limited info) the company isn't trying to get away with anything, you're just not dealing with all of the bits you're supposed to.

Also.. if you were worried about getting a response 'because of your username'... why did you use it :huh:
No and I understand that but I can't stop company from stealing my ideas, but they can chose to not do that. In fact, they even said there is a company trying to copy their own business model and are working to stop that, they are absolute hypocrites.

Company " We are NOT interested in this idea. At all"

Two months later: Company: "Here is our new collection we love it!"

This is out of my control. The manager doesn't even know if they will make my product until the buying manager has agreed to it. I can't send work with a contract before they open the email else I'd never get even a chance. My ideas are sent to the design manager via email which is standard practice according to them.

I submitted questions to the company but they never answered them. I asked them again but they shunned it off saying "most designers wait until the first prototype".

To provide context here, after a 400 mile trip to their offices, I wasn't even offered a glass of tap water.

So if the company aren't trying to get away with anything, shouldn't I be asking them for compensation since it's my idea? Sure they can play dumb and pretend they didn't know it's my idea but the proof is in their email system. Again, they said they have no interest in the collection but copy it months later.


Staff member
Um.... you can complain as much as you like but they offered you a contract... YOU haven't signed it or contested it....

And an idea is just an idea, anybody can come up with an idea, lots of people can come up with the exact same idea at the same time.
The contract was for a completely different collection and product that they ARE interested in producing. I didn't sign it because I had no idea where the product was going and didn't want my name on a piece of s***. Would it look odd signing the contract now without negotiating? (I'll get 1% of final product sale - this WAS contested but they never answered it - I can't force them to). By signing it, would they legally be required to produce the product? (I understand this is hard to say without seeing the contract)

The work they have blatantly copied is work they stated have NO interest in, hence no contract given.
Levi said:
sorry but head hits table....
Elaborate? I've no clue what I'm doing...

It's fair to say (well many customers say it for me) that this company isn't great. I'm aware of that and also aware this is just business. At the end of the day, I just want my product of 2 years sitting in my home.


Senior Member
It’s a tricky situation but I have to agree with Levi, the best you thing that you can do is learn from the experience.

On oneof your other points; you said that you didn’t want your name on a shoddy product? Why would your name be on it anyway?! That sounds like vandalism to me ;)

At the end of the day, if they did draw influence from your designs, they were probably never going to buy them anyway, so you’re no better or worse off now than when you started and since they’re still your designs, there’s nothing stopping you from shopping them somewhere else.

p.s. You should just name the company here so that others can avoid makign the same mistakes.
My name would be on it on the website as I'm an 'external' designer so they have to give credit to the designer. It's also part of the royalty agreement that they publish my name with the product.

I see your point with that - they may have them in production already but based on their turn around time (which is a total lie, in my case) they can take a product from design to completion within 2-4 months depending on the product.

Anyway, I'll calling them tomorrow to see where the install product is at, since it's been 2 months since they last replied to me.

It's so frustrating - I designed the products and photographed them to show how they will look IRL (I made a scale model). Their products looks almost exactly the same as my own photographs! Styling, product orientation, context, everything :(