Beijing Design Week Confronts Copying with Giant Rubber Duck

Those of you who were in Sydney for the Sydney Festival earlier in 2013 will recognise the infamous giant inflatable rubber duck by Florentijin Hofman that was seen floating in Sydney Harbour for the duration of the festival.

Organisers of Beijing Design Week have announced that the original 10-metre high plastic anatidae will be making an appearance during the festival as a way to highlight issues of copyright.

Another version of the duck – also authentic – was shown in Hong Kong earlier this year and inspired a raft of counterfeit inflatable ducks popping up in waters all over China, including cities Tianjin and Wuhan.

There have also been reports of inauthentic merchandise being distributed featuring the famous inflatable quacker.

Beijing Design Week event organisers hope that using the authentic duck will raise awareness around the issue of copying in design – and has pledged to take legal action against any unlicensed copies.

Quack! Quack!

Don’t fake it if you can’t afford it

Why is it that normally respectable folks, who wouldn’t be caught dead  wearing a fake Rolex, or carrying a fake Louis Vuitton, think it’s  fine to fill  their houses with fake designer furniture?

Apart from the dubious ethics involved in stealing some impoverished Danish  designer’s hard work, and supporting a Chinese sweatshop industry where toddlers  are whipped until they make enough chair legs, isn’t there something terribly  desperate  about wanting a house full of cheap rip-offs?

Most of these fakes are so built down to a price they they don’t even begin  to approximate the quality and attention to detail of the real thing. There’s a  reason why a real Eames lounge chair will set you back the best part of six  grand, while a papier-mache and sticky-tape version can be had for less than  $1000.

Celebrate Authentic Australian Design: Workshopped12 Exhibition

This year’s Workshopped exhibition – the 12th from the talented team – is themed ‘Local Design, Global Market: Be an international designer‘.

The event will showcase over 60 designers from around Australian plus guests from New Zealand and the USA.

Workshopped Director, Raymond Scott said, “We were overwhelmed with applications for this year’s exhibition  – there’s a great range of designs and a number we hope will make it to market.”

The Workshopped team passionately support authentic design and have a vision of there one day being an authentic Australian design in every Australian home.

The exhibition launch event – which has fast become one of Sydney’s leading design events – is on Wednesday 31st October – with over 800 members of the design industry expected to attend.

The exhibition then runs from Thursday 1st November through to Saturday 10th November and admission is free.7

Emeco sues Restoration Warehouse for stealing Navy Chair® Design

The Emeco Navy Chair® vs The Restoration Hardware ‘Naval Chair’.

Emeco, the genuine handcraft company based in Hanover, Pennsylvania, today sued home furnishing giant Restoration Hardware and its former CEO and present “Creator and Curator” Gary Friedman, asserting claims for trade dress and trademark counterfeiting and infringement.

What Restoration Hardware is trying to do is bad for the American consumer, bad for American jobs and bad for the global environment.
–Gregg Buchbinder, Emeco CEO.

The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco in the United States District Court, alleges that Restoration Hardware has engaged in willful and flagrant infringement of Emeco’s trade dress and trademark rights for its world-renowned Navy Chair® by selling a series of cheap knockoffs with the near-identical “Naval Chair” name that copy verbatim the iconic and highly distinctive design of the Navy Chair®.  The irreparable harm caused by Restoration Hardware, an established company, to Emeco’s reputation and significant goodwill is massive, incomparable to that caused by a typical, small-time counterfeiter. The real deal: Emeco’s iconic Navy Chair

Emeco has filed this action to halt that harm and protect its exclusive rights.  Emeco seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction to stop Restoration Hardware’s unlawful conduct and the damages to which the law entitles it. The allegedly illegally manufactured counterfeits also include the, “Navy Armchairs”, “Navy Barstools” and “Navy Counter stools” – exact counterfeits of Emeco’s Navy Chair® Collection.

Emeco’s quality guarantee of The Navy Chair® is the result of elaborate and precise specifications developed by the U.S. Navy in 1944 in conjunction with ALCOA Aluminum. These specifications are still used by the craftsmen at Emeco in a unique 77-step process that meets the most stringent American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association (BIFMA) standards. The chairs are tested to last 150 years.

Emeco is an American success story that has demonstrated to the market its value and sustainability. We create American jobs and work with the best designers to manufacture a product respected and sought after around the world. For us, stealing our Navy Chair® design is like stealing the Nike Swoosh or the Mercedes Benz logo, and then exploiting our brand and reputation to produce an inferior product.

– Gregg Buchbinder, Emeco CEO.

Pirates of Beijing…

Looking for fakes?  ”Back in 5″ –  Thats the word on the street where counterfeit material is most common in Beijing last week.

In areas where procurement of pirated DVDs and access to designer clothing rip-offs is most prevalent, a peculiar blackout on dodgy trade had descended, leaving locals and visitors on the hunt for a “bargain”, scratching their heads.

The reason for the break in regular transmission was the World Intellectual Property Convention (run by the World Intellectual Property Organization – WIPO), which was running in the Nations Capital over the last week in June.

Interestingly pointed out by the Sydney Morning Herald’s China correspondent John Garnaut:

The pirating of fashion labels and cultural content upsets multinational companies but raises little concern among citizens in China.

Mass outbreaks of fake food, counterfeit medicine and adulterated milk, on the other hand, cause outrage.

Perhaps most telling, was that retailers who were drastically reducing the price and hiding the inauthenticity of their goods to keep sales moving during the ban, were confident of return to business-as-usual as soon as delegates departed.

Cobonpue Counters Counterfeits…

Trained in the US and Europe, the now Cebu based designer continues to spearhead the contemporary Asian design movement under his own name and in the form of creative director for HIVE, a collective of international designers and artisans who produce lighting and accessories – sold globally.

The World Intellectual Property Organization’s current WIPO Magazine this month profiles the designer.  Pressing him on his thoughts on the ongoing problem of replicas and their impact on the design landscape, especially in the East where a great majority are produced.

Inve$ting in Value…

The breadth of argument against the replication of original design commonly includes: quality, craftsmanship, ethical manufacturing and commitment to environmental practice, but perhaps one of the strongest cards the anti-counterfeit campaigners have in appealing to the ambivalent consumer is that of the embodied value in an original design piece.

Where the term “value” is used emotively in this debate, it also holds true financial and measurable weight in the justification for protecting a design and its designers interests.

The cheapening of brands, aesthetics and concepts through the undercutting of the selling price is done, as we know, by doing away with investment in quality materials, expertise in manufacturing as well as the initial design process – the result is merely a facsimile of someone else’s hard work.  Cheap gets cheap.

To acknowledge that the purchasing of authentic goods will in fact offer the potential for strong return in years to come, is rarely given credence by counterfeit purchasers.

In June, James Cockington at the Sydney Morning Herald examined this issue at a time when investment in property and stock is suffering from tighter pockets and loss of confidence in those looking for sound investments.  Cheeringly, auction houses across Australia are reporting no real slump in interest, if anything trends show a boost in the high regard for designed goods and “legendary pieces” as reliable investment alternatives.

Dwelling on Design Knockoffs…

We applaud the team at dwell.com who have dedicated much of their recent content to raising awareness about counterfeit design.

Deputy Editor Jaime Gillin has penned numerous pieces in recent months addressing the “real cost” of replicas, as well as publishing the opinions on this issue put forward by design industry luminaries.

From the evils of Zara to America’s disposable culture to the real value of a $1,000 chair, here are ten designers, manufacturers, and design observers sounding off on knockoffs and authentic design.

We would urge you to pop over to www.dwell.com and read these pieces.

Gillin puts forward compelling counter-arguments for the myriad excuses and “justifications” consumers roll out in defence of their counterfeit purchases, at the same time as clearly and concisely pinpointing what it is that makes the continued sale of these items  so damaging to design itself.

Lights! Camera! Take Action!

Piracy plays a very real and very damaging role on every level of the film, television and entertainment industries.

Much like the ongoing battle the broader arts and creative community are waging to protect their work, our friends in the local and International film and television industry are very much feeling the impact of copying and illegal downloads.

The Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation (IPA) was established in 2009, and similarly to the ADA it seeks to educate the general public on the consequences (seemingly unknown to most) of their actions in pirating entertainment.

Backed by the likes of Margaret Pomerantz, George Miller (Babe, Mad Max, Happy Feet) and Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby, Star Wars) the IPA is targeting a younger demographic with the byline: “Nothing Beats The Real Thing”.

Lending his support to the cause this week is Australian Director and Actor John Polson (Mission Impossibe 2).

There is a direct connection between that revenue generation and really how good the quality of content is…