This one's from Eagle Printing in Lincoln, NE. Someone spotted it and sent me a picture:
This in itself isn't a big deal - it's not a huge business, and little pilfers like this go on all over the place. Their website tipped the scales for me, though:
He's on every page - granted it's not a huge presence, but still...
I think this image was traced from this photo of one of the customized toys:
I've written to the company, but no response so far... that was two days ago. More as it develops!
UPDATE (08/05/09) - Eagle Printing just contacted me today - all traces of "Happy Beaver" have been removed from their storefront and website. Hooray!
Two lifts of my Happy Beaver vinyl toy design discovered in the same week! Fortunately, I've got some sharp-eyed friends...
The first one was a 'new' mascot for Delta Dental's website, ironically named awholenewanimal.com. I've placed them right next to each other for comparison:
It shows up in a big, brief pop-up ad on a page of the Seattle Times, and again if you click on the ad - this time, even bigger:
This page doesn't hang around long, either - but The Weecan was also featured on the standing home page, albeit much smaller. It's since disappeared, having been replaced by an apple.
At least this rip-off is a Photoshop trace-over... the second pickpocket couldn't even be bothered to put in that much work. This one appeared on the Howie Do It! program, turning up later on YouTube. Here's a frame grab from the clip, a Candid Camera-style fake-out, in the form of a bogus game show:
It's featured prominently on the banner, and in cropped form on the podium. I'm pretty sure I know exactly which photo was used for this, too:
They were in such a hurry, they grabbed a photo of the first color test rather than the finished toy.
So there you go - two examples of casual thievery in one week. If this isn't a good advertisment for registering your work with the Copyright Office, I don't know what is!
UPDATE (5/17): The tiny Weecan on the Delta Dental home page is gone, and the pop-up ad on the Seattle Times page seems to be gone, too. The pop-up on the wholenewanimal.com page is still there, though.
UPDATE (5/20): The Weecan icon on the home page appears and disappears (it's gone for the moment - now replaced with a toothbrush - maybe it's randomized with other photos), and the original Seattle Times pop-up and home page file folder artwork seem to be gone (though I believed that to be true earlier and they reappeared). At the moment, only a single peelback ad at The Spokesman-Review remains.
UPDATE (5/22): I've received a few emails informing me that all of the ads have been removed, and that the peelback ad is a fake page - but it will be taken down soon as well. Everything else is gone from my point of view, so that's encouraging! Thanks so much for everyone's help and support.
UPDATE (5/26): I've recieved a letter from DLA Piper, the company that handles Washington Dental's intellectual property issues. They feel that since I sell toys and Washington Dental provide dental services, and since the characters have 'clear differences in their appearances', that there is no market confusion between the two. The letter concludes by stating that Delta Dental intends to continue using the "Weecan" character.