Design theft

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by rayaldridge, May 28, 2011.

  1. rayaldridge
    Joined: Jun 2006
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    rayaldridge Senior Member

    The other day an online acquaintance very kindly pointed out that a firm in Germany appeared to be trying to sell plans for the little 16 foot beachcruising catamaran I designed, Slider.

    I went to the web site, and sure enough, they were advertising plans for a boat that sounded remarkably like Slider, and what was even more irritating, they'd stolen a photograph from my web site and adapted it to their purposes.


    They flipped it horizontally and put a shirt on my son John.

    Most irritating of all, they were trying to sell the plans for a lot more than I do.

    I decided to ask a few people about the situation, relying on the fact that most people in the boat design and building field are extremely kind and helpful people.. Among these good folk was John Harris of Chesapeake Light Craft. He gave me excellent advice, and he was sufficiently irritated by the situation that he fired off a nastygram to the miscreants in question.

    Their response to John was fairly mysterious and kind of funny. They claimed that they had great respect for me and for the design, and were simply "testing" the German market to see if there was any interest in the design. If there was, they told John, then they would negotiate with me, license the design from me, and produce plans in German and with metric dimensions.

    I'm dubious. There was no mention of me in the copy they had on their website; and the strong implication was that this was their design. It's hard for me to believe that it is considered an ethical business practice to float such a trial balloon without consulting the owner of the design. But even if this is considered ethical in some circles, how do they justify taking a copyrighted photo from my website and using it without permission? If they were floating a trial balloon, they went about it very stupidly, failing to take advantage of the many photos and videos of Slider that are available on the web. If they'd been straightforward with me, I'd have been helpful.

    At any rate, if you're a designer of small craft, you might want to look on their site to see if anything looks familiar.

    Here's the page with the Slider plans:

    I just hope they take it down before anyone sends them money, because according to their email to John Harris, they don't actually have the plans to offer yet.

    I wouldn't buy anything from them.
  2. Ad Hoc
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Ad Hoc Naval Architect

    Anything and everything is fair game on the web..that is the purpose of the web. what. Every country has its own laws and views on what constitutes copy right. Also, would you spend lots of time and money chasing this guy down..answer, no. And that's the point, they know that.

    Only way to protect yourself is to either never post anything on line, or two, post images that are lock/secured that make it impossible to change and makes sure you have some watermark of yours shown in the image. That way it is yours....otherwise, you'll have to like it or lump it.

    Same has happened to us. Initially annoyed, but after i sat what..all they have is a GA..nothing else. Just a 'pretty picture'.

    Bottom line is this. They have your picture and what shows to be a design...but what else do they have..nothing..just a picture. For them to sell it to a buyer, they would need drawings. If they don't have is just a scam. If they do have drawings..are they yours, or are they their own, but just using your image to promote it, as they have none of their own.

    But, again, so what...every single boat the world over has plagiarism written all over it. It is the nature of this business.
  3. Manie B
    Joined: Sep 2006
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    Location: Cape Town South Africa

    Manie B Senior Member

    I fully understand your' peeved off

    but dont worry - these types simply dont last
    I have seen many of them come and go over the years
    no substance no backbone
  4. dantnz
    Joined: Apr 2008
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    dantnz Junior Member

    Ray, I've spent some time in Germany (I'm there right now!) and they have very strong copyright laws, as you would expect in an economy that depends on the export of machine tools and manufacturing equipment and other high end goods.

    The site is registered in Germany, and they all have to have an identified owner, you will find it under the 'Impressum' link: You'll see that the site owner is a Dr (of science presumably), so he'll have reputation to protect.

    If you write directly to him, he should remove the material from his site. At the moment, only a 3rd party (John) has written to them, so they won't take any notice. Failing that, seek help from the state authorities ( or get a German lawyer to write them a letter.

    In the meantime write about it on your blog and anywhere else you can, pointing out that it is a scam and use the German terms for the boat (cut and paste from and include links to the offending site. Anyone considering buying these plans would no doubt do a google search for the boat, if you use the German names and links, your site will come up and they'll get the picture. And don't worry, most Germans can speak english, and those that don't can read it!

    Good luck. Dan
  5. daiquiri
    Joined: May 2004
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    Location: Italy (Garda Lake) and Croatia (Istria)

    daiquiri Engineering and Design

    For example, Crackerbox photos (and I guess plans too) were taken from the Glen-L site:
    vs. crooks' site:

    I believe you're right, their page is full of boats which were clearly not designed by the same hand (I'm pretty sure more experienced guys here will recognize some of these designs): So, they must have borrowed them from somewhere else. I though these things were happening mostly in china, it would be so hard (before seeing this) to imagine it could appear on a German site... :rolleyes:
  6. rapscallion
    Joined: Oct 2006
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    rapscallion Senior Member

    I would be irritated if someone tried to pull that on me. Your plans are cheaper, too bad there isn't a german boat design forum you could post on to get the word out concerning your plans... because they are a better deal :)

    I bet if someone tried to buy plans from them, they would simply buy plans from you and copy them and pass them along.....
  7. daiquiri
    Joined: May 2004
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    Location: Italy (Garda Lake) and Croatia (Istria)

    daiquiri Engineering and Design

    If Richard / Apex was still here, I'm pretty sure he would know how to help you on this or could give you a right advice about the best action you could take.
    Maybe you could contact him privately via e-mail.
  8. Aharon
    Joined: May 2011
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    Location: Israel

    Aharon Junior Member

    Here are boatbuilding forums from Germany:
    Dinghy (there are other categories at )
    Porta Boote:

    Forums (as informed at ) - boat building, design & repair
    iboats Boating Forums
    Rib - Rigid Inflatable Boat
    Boat Design - yours truly, BDNet!

    Write in English, they will understand the name and direction of the insulting part!
    By the way, your cat is good looking and not scary for beginners. What is the weight of the baby (I would rather car-top it initially).
  9. Aharon
    Joined: May 2011
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    Location: Israel

    Aharon Junior Member

    "here are boatbuilding "companies", not forums (sorry, the "edit" button is not buttoning well lately).
  10. Alik
    Joined: Jul 2003
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    Location: Thailand

    Alik Senior Member

    Few years ago, I found some companies were selling our FREE plans. I always see some our pictures/designs on websites of 'designers', 'builders' and 'brokers' without any authorization.

    So what could be done? I keep talking about industry assosiation where all such cases could be investigated by trusted experts and such websites/companies blacklisted. Same refers to cases of scum.

    Only thing we can do now is to post only very small pictures online, preferebly with watermark. It could limit use of stolen images to some extent. In general, I try to publish some images of our comcepts in printed press, in such way to fix the priority and authorship.
  11. Doug Lord
    Joined: May 2009
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    Ray, this is no test. Somehow they got your plans and are offering a 56 page booklet with them for sale. I'd go after them as best you can. You could contact a US patent/copyright attorney who may have German contacts and might be able to pursue them on the basis of copyright. I have an excellent patent, trademark, copyright attorney in Orlando ,Fl but I don't know where you are-it might not matter. PM me if you want his contact info. Good Luck!
  12. rapscallion
    Joined: Oct 2006
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    Location: Wisconsin

    rapscallion Senior Member

    I just sent them a nasty email too...
  13. Manfred.pech
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    Manfred.pech Senior Member

    1 person likes this.
  14. daiquiri
    Joined: May 2004
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    Location: Italy (Garda Lake) and Croatia (Istria)

    daiquiri Engineering and Design

  15. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    This is a fairly common occurrence now. I had a similar thing happen a few years ago and I was completely unable to get any satisfaction from the offending company or government (China of course). What I elected to do was have a buddy of mine bring down their site, repeatedly with devious software. They'd get up and running in a few days, then they'd get "torn up" again. After about a month of this, they stopped putting the site back up. Now, I'm not condoning spreading malicious software to every site you don't like, but some countries and some companies not only look the other way, but in fact practice these types of theft.
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