Inspiration or Copying? You Tell Me?
**It would appear that some people are taking my words more literal than they are meant to be. This post is about respect and the idea of not blatantly taking someone else’s idea. There is no product infringement here and I would never think about ever getting a lawyer for things like this as that is just silly. Nothing is new under the sun but doing something different from the next brand as opposed to doing exactly what they did is what this is about. Its about originality and morality.**
There is a fine line between copying someone’s idea and taking inspiration from it. Being the person who thinks that people are copying (an idea) from, I guess that I would be somewhat biased on the subject, so I am writing here to ask what all of you think? But first let me tell you about how I took inspiration and made a product (and idea) from it.
When I used to shine shoes as a job I remember getting a good amount of Berluti shoes brought to my table. And every now and then they would come with these plastic shoe trees that came in black with gold insignia indicating the brand (not the first time I had seen trees like this but these ones did give me the inspiration). This was right at the time that the airlines were starting to jack up the prices for luggage and lower the weight restrictions in order to make money off of us travelers. As NO ONE IN MY DIRECT SECTOR OF THE INDUSTRY (i.e. my direct competitors) had done so previously, I decided to create an idea out of it and make a product coined “The Travel Shoe Tree.” Now I won’t lie, I looked at the bottom of those trees, found the manufacturer and ordered the product to sell under my own label. But of course as not to directly copy Berluti’s product (who doesn’t even sell these but rather just gives them with their shoes), I changed the color and with that color change and phrase made it distinctly related to my brand, as red and black is highly associated with The Shoe Snob and I was campaigning the ide of travel shoe trees.
Now while I can’t claim to be the first person to have ever used the term “travel shoe tree,” I can say that I did promote that idea heavily on TSS and it has since been a phrase used by many other brands in my direct sector of the industry. And while that is great and it doesnt bother me whatsoever, what is not so great is the fact that not only have 2 other companies used that phrase, but also made the exact same tree as the one that I did keeping the exact same color (bright red) and insignia and one brand even under-cutting me in price. Now I understand that this is the name of the game and I am happy to play it but I would more respect the individual/brand that took inspiration from that product release and at least change colors to represent their brand and NOT use the exact same colors that I use, especially as there is a plethora of colors in the world and these trees are offered in many of them.
Now I won’t name the companies nor show their product photos but just thought I would ask all of you how you would feel if someone directly took your idea without altering the idea that makes it what it is (i.e. the bright red and coined name of it)?
Nevertheless, I guess I can at least be happy and proud that my ideas are used by others. But just remember where you first found the red, plastic “Travel Shoe Tree”!!