Ufukuro rips off several Illustrators and Designers

I was sent a link to the Chinese shopping site TaoBao.com recently, where I discovered my designs being sold alongside designs by various other illustrators, on tote bags, handbags and cosmetics cases. These bags are being made by a company called Ufukuro who, although they have a Japanese name (presumably to sound more high end and legit) are actually based in Shanghai, China. I was shocked by the sheer number of rip-offs, which mostly are just directly copy-pasted (sometimes with a change of colour or layout) from the various artists’ work. I can’t post all of them here (there are 2-5 images stolen from each artist, and at least 14 artists affected), but here are a few of the stolen designs, shown alongside the original images. I’m pretty sure that ALL of Ufukuro’s illustrated bags feature stolen images. Unfortunately, as it is a Chinese company, it is extremely difficult to take any legal action.

The bags are also for sale online at Dawanda.com and on Etsy.

The artists and designers affected include: Kate Sutton, Jim Datz, Jon Burgerman, Darling Clementine, Adrian Johnson, Marion Bantjes, Christopher Lee, Sanna Annukka, Andrew Holder, Andreas Samuelsson, Toru Fukuda, Lance Wyman, Krisatomic and lucky old me (Gemma Correll).

But it’s very possible that there are others. Take a look – maybe you’ll be one of the unfortunate folks that has had their work stolen by Ufukuro.

41 comments

  • Can’t understand how someone could have given this a 1/5 on the rip scale. It doesn’t get any more ripped than this!

  • At least on Etsy we should be able to report them.

  • @leslie: Etsy doesn’t do much. When I’ve contacted them about a copyright infringement, they just sent me a form e-mail telling me to contact a lawyer before making accusations. They didn’t do anything.

  • Why isn’t there some way to make countries like China respect international copyright laws? I was recently at the National Stationery Show and there were dozens of Chinese manufacturers (printers, etc) with booths. I would never have my greeting cards printed in China because I know if they like a design, they might use it without permission.

  • @ Traci
    What! I thought Etsy would remove the violation if you can prove ownership (via copyright). Well, I won’t be doing any more business with Etsy if this is how they handle copyright violations. I will be emailing them this afternoon. Cheers

  • You can’t make countries respect ‘international copyright law’ because there’s no such thing! The nearest thing is the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, which only has any bearing on countries that have signed up to it and implemented local laws covering it. If the country isn’t a signatory, it doesn’t apply; even those that are signatories have significant differences in the scope of local copyright laws, and the remedies they offer.

  • It’s not just China but also high street companies in the west who see what a toothless beast copyright law is for designers and creators.

  • They got a “fuk u” in their name.

  • ufukuro may have ripped these artists off, but honestly all of the work in this post looks like it was done by the same artist. irony.

  • @anon Does it? Does it really? Or are you just being a troll? Because I think anyone with can tell that the artistic styles are actually very different.

  • Meant to say, ‘anyone with with eyes’

  • Anonymous, you are a wanker. Fuck you and your ‘irony’

  • As far as we can tell, it’s nearly 100% cut-n-pasted content on their hundreds of products. Nice business model, isn’t it?

  • strong words urban outfitters. you’re right, this stuff is so cool, i can’t believe i said that. im going to go buy one of their unique domo threadless etsy owl cute bunny shirt/prints now to make up for my transgression. irony+stupid=cleverest ever featured in blah blah pat on the back art preachin to the quire magazine…i mean zine..cuz those are in right now, or were. point is, spend less time hating and more time truly innovating and maybe your work will actually stand out enough to insure it’s integrity and prevent you from being ripped off. otherwise you’re just making more facebook “like” posts for me to ignore. you guys are cool though really, i’m just messin with you. psyche.

  • This is infuriating! Basically any work by any artist is being stolen and profited from.

  • Wowza, that’s extremely lazy and extremely cocky of them.

    If they are being sold in America via Etsy then you should be able to fight it.

  • anon’s comment is funny ’cause it’s true. sucks their shit was blatantly copied, but i am so sick of this style.

  • Stuck agreeing with Anon1: Hipster Art all looks the same to me. :)

    The said, yes, its an OBVIOUS rip. Whoever stole them sucks, and not only that, they should be beaten for their crime an for having no taste! :D

  • Man! I just feel like Gemma gets ripped off every day. Flattering to know your style is worth thieving, but this must get so old!

  • This analogy may put things in to perspective. Imagine Ford coming out with a hybrid (that looked remarkably similar to the ever-so-popular Toyota hybrid) and calling it a “Prius”. Would that not be suspect?

    One doesn’t need to like a popular fashion or art trend to understand the gravity of this ridiculous rip-off…it’s a no-brainer.

  • They will probably turn up in top shop next week!

  • It’s not really about the style though is it? (but, anyone who thinks all these art styles look the same is a bit stupid…). Stop trying to antagonise people and remember what this site is about. Are these designs blatantly plagiarised? Yes. Thats all that matters, not your misplaced ideas about ‘hipster’ art.

  • The styles only look similar because all of the elements have been cut out and stuck on the bags in the same way by the same Chinese “designer”. Anyone that doesn’t understand the subtleties of the different styles used by the various illustrators really doesn’t have any right to comment on this subject.

  • Which is why it is so important to not only document your copyrights by filing those documents, but also to find an atty who is has experience in craft/art law. When my first customer asked for four of my products, after seeing them in use from my personal book, the very first thing I did was file for a provisional utility patent. I am now in the process of filing the permanent utility patent. It may not protect me internationally, but it will protect me in the States if anyone tries to sell a copy/rip-off. From what I understand, if you have the documentation of your copyright protected work, Etsy is legally bound to remove copies.

  • I just wrote an article on art theft and there are 2 international IP attorneys who deal with this very thing listed: You are More Likely to Die in a Car Crash than have your art stolen. http://kateharperblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/you-are-10-time-more-likely-to-die-in.html

    My biggest concern in articles like these is what they do to artist’s minds and emotions who read them. Look at the numbers, and also look at your legal options instead of just using “hearsay” as facts. the U.S is the biggest market for products and all these artist can prevent the importation at the border of these items, and file an infringement against U.S. companies who distribute them.

  • I’m brazilian and the Pablo Lobo’s design is is definitely a ripoff. The design was the winner of a T-shirt Contest organized by the companies Camiseteria and Nitrocorpz – you can see the official link here:
    http://www.camiseteria.com/product.aspx?pid=1130
    Rodrigo Habib and Pablo Lobo were the partners artists who earn the authorship.

  • Sucks indeed. It may not do much but I would at least write my senator if I were you. Giving them awareness is better than nothing.

  • I think spreading the word on your own blogs/twitter/fb pages is a good start. If you see these pieces for sale in a shop, pull up this post and call the police. Pretty sure selling counterfeit is still illegal. The sellers will have to pack it up + that will most likely stop them from buying fr Ufuku again – attack from the consumer end.

  • PS. Now I want a Julie West tote bag for reals.

  • fuck you! fuck you! and you and you and you! fuck all of you! yes you everyone who left a comment here except me, FUCK YOU!

  • Interestingly – when I click on these links now they go nowhere! So someone has been listening (no doubt they are on another site now!)

    It takes so much passion and so many risks to be an artist, makes me furious to see this. Urban Outfitters did the same a few weeks back. I am sure the world will gradually have to change though as the interent makes us all the more powerful in being able to shout out. Good luck everyone

  • THAT IS INFURIATING!!!!!!! what jerks! Like Tara said, its takes so much passion and not to mention hard work from our end, and then factories can do this!

  • Typical, and unfortunately not a lot that can be done. In China EVERYTHING gets copied, they don’t have patent / copyright laws do they?!

  • Bonjour et merci beaucoup pour cette article bien rédigée.

  • if it was a movie they would do something. they took Megaupload down, so this should go down.

    if they will police the world for copyright violatons, and protecting one’s art and IP
    this should be included

  • I’m extremely inspired along with your writing skills as neatly as with the format for your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Anyway keep up the nice high quality writing, it’s rare to peer a nice weblog like this one these days..

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