“Why didn’t I think of that… first”Posted: 01/09/2012
One of my biggest monsters is the “I wish I’d thought of that!” gremlin. It pops up all the time, and a quick Google image search will tell you within 10 seconds that your “big idea” has been done. Or worse, has been done and then ripped off by 40 other sellers on Etsy.
I got an email from a friend this morning, with a dilemma about a really awesome creation. She was proud of it, thinking about trying to sell it, but on doing market research found there was a company that already made them. What do you do in that situation? At what levels of detail do items become the same? (This level right here. Damn.) Items that have already existed for a while, such as pillows, pinatas, puppets or purses can get by with more similarities unless the design is incredibly intricate. It’s a murky area, especially in these times where larger companies (Urban Outfitters, I am pointing directly at you) are stealing ideas from independent artisans.
In some ways, the big guy stealing from the little guy seems a lot worse than the little guy trailing on the other little guy. You could say that what is done in ignorance isn’t stealing at all, but it is hard to prove it. The safest thing to do is give up when you see something similar online, but at the rate new creations are being uploaded and searchable, soon nothing will be. So, beat them at their own game. If you’ve got an idea, make it a reality and get a picture online now. It doesn’t have to be in any marketplace, as long as you make your mark. Sure, someone can and will inevitably try to replicate it, but we can’t do anything to change that.
My advice to her was this: you made this, not knowing it already existed. Don’t beat yourself up. Think of a few additions/changes you could make that are uniquely your own. If you’ve got the presence of mind to ask yourself, “Is this wrong?” you’re going to make the right decision and figure out an alternative.