Ricoh Copies?

Keyboard Characters Set.

Four years ago I created a unique self-promotional product I called Keyboard Characters. It was a fun set to create and worked really well as a self promotion for my business.

I still give them out at speaking engagements even though Apple has changed the modus operandi on keyboards so you can't insert stuff like your use to be able too. And I still have about five boxes of them sitting in my closet at home. ;-P

"Pet Monster" Keyboard Character.

Since I have them posted on my web site I periodically get email from art directors or creative directors who request a set. When I get a request like this I always send them one and include a few tear sheets as well. So in that respect it's still serving as a promotional item for me.

Around September, 2008 I received a phone call from an ad agency in New York. The person asked if I could send them two sets of the Keyboard Characters. I did and included some tear sheets. Nothing ever came from it and soon I forgot all about that brief interaction.

Ricoh Ad showing artwork in question.

Around February, 2009 I received an email from another designer asking me:

"Did you do some illustration for Ricoh?"

I told them I hadn't and they responded "Well I saw this ad in a magazine and it looks just like your character."

When I saw this ad I got that sinking feeling in my stomach, you know the one that happens when you look in your rear view mirror and a police car is right on your bumper.

It turns out that the agency (I'm purposely not naming names) I had sent two sets of Keyboard Characters too was the same agency that handled the Ricoh campaign for the C900 in September, 2008.

They didn't simply copy (pardon my pun) my art and use it, that would be easy enough to deal with. What they did is borrow the concept and equity (segmented multi-colored monster) of my art and exploited it for their own work. And they didn't even do a good job at that.

Ricoh "Scary!" campaign for C900.

I've talked to my copyright attorney about this and he agrees that it was definitely derived from my work but I have no way to prove it. In other words if I would have sent the Keyboard Characters via UPS with a tracking number and receipt that would have sufficed to prove it.

Since I posted this I've been contacted by a lawyer explaining my opinions and I'm now pursuing that course of action. Thank you for helping me understand how I can address this through official circles, I appreciate it.

I think anyone with an ounce of common sense can discern the source however, so I'll leave it in the court of public opinion.

Hostage quality photo of Ricoh brochure.

This summer I got another email from someone containing this image of a Ricoh brochure showcasing this character art again. Every time I think about this it pisses me off. I know someone, some where had to reference my design in order to create their own B movie version of it.

I debated whether to even post about this or not. But over the last year I've had numerous other people email me who have seen the original ad and thought I had done the monster art. Its like having a scab that just begins to heal and than gets snagged on something and ripped off again exposing the original wound.

So I decided to post about it, and see what others thought.

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