Today’s entry arrives by sea, from my hometown of Long Beach, California. In this saga of maritime misappropriation, the putative pirate is a well-known action sports brand who is alleged to have fallen for copyright infringement hook, line, and sinker.
From a legal standpoint, it is important to remember that copyright law does not protect fonts, no matter how stylized the letters. Trademark law, however, will provide protection for the stylized depiction of a word if that stylized depiction is associated with a certain brand by consumers.
In this case, however, it appears that not only has the font been misappropriated, but also the composition and design elements of the work at issue, which may be subject to copyright protection. Is there enough taken to be a violation of the law or a violation of the artists’ moral code?
In April 2011, Port opened it’s doors in Long Beach, CA—an unorthodox group of minds, set out to deliver our lifestyle through our product, creativity and store. A clothing boutique, selling small and larger brands as well as Port branded product with its wildly popular and successful logo.
The popularity of the logo led to Port branded product being the best selling product for the store.
With the brand, store and recognition on the rise, Port was delivered a despicable blow, when surfboard and clothing manufacture …Lost released an all but familiar tee shirt graphic, first spotted on the online retailer Swell, in May 2012. Now a tank top version of the stolen art is on Pacific Sunwear’s site.
When put side-by-side, the gross neglect of trademark infringement is clear. The designer that presented this as an option should be ashamed of themselves. It is one thing to have reference, but to so blatantly rip off another’s work is a different story.
The theft of intellectual property has left us baffled. Even more disgraceful is the fact that an established surf brand would steal from its own. The store is rooted in skate and surf culture. Everyone involved with Port is a steward of the action sports industry—the owners, art director, artists, employees and friends of the store. From shoe designers to marketing directors, we are all part of the industry we love.
It is so unfortunate that one of our own would stoop to a level so low, to blatantly steal and take potential profits from a small, independent shop.
It might be true that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but this flattery is just a cloak for theft and brand confusion.