I was a Victim of Intellectual Property Theft !

I was a Victim of Intellectual Property Theft !

Don’t you hate it when you share an absolutely brilliant idea with your colleague and she runs to your boss and presented your idea as hers? It’s totally dishonorable, absolutely despicable and utterly disgusting when such scumbags are bathed in the light of your glory while you languish in the back-waters of obscurity. That idea of yours is an intellectual property. Don’t assume that only books, music, lyrics and the likes are intellectual property. Your concepts, your ideas, your sketches, drafts, charts and tables are YOUR intellectual properties which you should protect.

Trust me, us folks in the creative industry has lots of horror stories on intellectual property theft to tell. My latest peeve is with this guy from some mid-eastern bloc country who stole my articles, How Much to Pay your Advertising Agency? and Does Pay by Performance works with a Marketing Agency? and placed them in his blog. I was totally unaware until the editor at www.ezinearticles.com alerted me that my account with the renowned 2-million traffic website was suspended. She graciously directed me to view that scumbag’s blog. Ezinearticle’s policy requires that “all submitted articles be either original articles written by you or articles to which you have an exclusive right to. Please keep in mind that to have an exclusive right to an article, only your name may be associated with it. If you purchased this article as part of a pack or received it from a distributor/affiliate site, so have others so you do not have an exclusive right to it. Can you please explain the above? What is the source of your article?”

My reaction came swift and sharp: shocked, stunned, anger, ruffled, indignant, despair, frustrated, wronged. For a marketing and advertising agency, our products are all intellectual properties; our goods are our ideas and creativity in the form of strategy papers, presentations, brainstorming and discussions plus creative proposals in the form of visuals, copy, scripts and storyboards. It is not uncommon for creative folks to present ideas to clients and potential prospects and have them rejected (note: even rejected ideas are still your intellectual property). That’s okay, different strokes for different folks. What’s absolutely not acceptable, is when that client/prospect extracts snippets of what they like, brief the other marketing agency/freelancer, and viola, a cross bred campaign is born. I still remembered proposing an advent garte exhibition set for a Generation-X targeted fragrance launch for men. The client said it was not in line with what they had in mind. We were flabbergasted as we really believed we had nailed the campaign. Well, may the best campaign win, I was looking forward to learning from the winning entry. Guess what? When I walked into shopping mall, I saw our concept of “petrol drums as fragrance showcase”, and the much debated “embossed metal sheet as flooring” proudly adorning the entire exhibition area. We wrote to the Managing Director a letter expressing our outrage and attached with evidence of work plus a bill. He paid.

So for those whose intellectual properties were stolen, stand up and fight against such intellectual property theft and hijacks. Otherwise, not only will you be the victim, you are further consenting the scumbag to further victimize others. Right now, I’m reading how to seek redress by getting scumbag’s blog down as he has hijacked other writers’ contribution too. I’m glad that I have proven my innocence and worthiness as Ezinearticles.com quickly restored my account and even awarded me with their PlatinumExpert Author status. Ezinearticles’ integrity in screening all writers/contributors by human editors and not via some writing software, and the fact that they took the necessary effort and precautions to prevent fraud really won my most profound admiration and appreciation.

To clients out there who didn’t like the overall presentation but found snippets of it interesting, my suggestion is do either or these: Get the selected agency to review the ousted agency’s work and come out with something better OR buy the idea from the ousted agency. Don’t go cheap by copying. Copying is not flattery in the creative industry; it can lead to empty stomachs and companies folding up. To creative talents, my take is not to be victimized, do whatever you can to protect your intellectual property. You are a victim only if you allow yourself to be bullied.

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[tags]intellectual property, intellectual property theft, victim of intellectual property theft, article stolen, blog, ezinearticles[/tags]

10 Replies to “I was a Victim of Intellectual Property Theft !”

  1. Hi Viv, thank you for sharing.

    I have a similar experiences like yours with a potential client. This is a QSR business and the committee is made up of the franchisor and a list of franchisee. One of the Canadian franchisee is a bloody ass during our proposal phase, demanding to have this and that, including our in-house research info! We refuse of course since they have not signed on the dotted line.

    In the end, they awarded the retainer account to another Oz agency stating that their concept is better. Next we know, 70% of our promotion mechanics and idea was launched as a campaign. I swore never to purchase this QSR brand even there is an outlet that is close to my home because the management committee left a bad after taste. Call me and I will warn you against them too.

    2 important things that I learn and applied ever since:

    1. No free pitches especially when I am handling the biz development end unless we are looking a big account. My win usually involved very little creative resource upfront. Unfortunately, many smaller agencies tend to give out their ideas too cheap and free in our local market. This is a vicious cycle because clients do not appreciate FREE IDEA! My stand is simple, YOU GOT TO PAY FOR MY IDEA THAT SELL. If not, I am ok with client going to somewhere else because they will be wasting their money on some “Branding/Creative” idea that has no commerical value even thought it is cheap.

    2. Stay away from becoming the ad/marketing agency for any committee management because there are simply too many cooks with differ personal agenda. In the end, it ruins the pot of soup.

    Ken Chee

  2. Hi Ken
    For the past 20 years, I’m mostly in the creative industry. And only ONCE did I met a client who’s willing to pay a pitching fee. You are right that clients expects free pitch. I know of a company called 7-8 agencies for a pitch that requires the full works of strategy, creative, media and their project value is <$50K. And yes, you are also right that most small agencies would oblige. Until we learn to charge, and willing to charge a pitch fee, the clients will continue to think that it's a buyer's market. Thanks for sharing too. :)

  3. Just a sharing, a speaker(in one of the workshop I attended), from an established design agency, shared that its a market practice to charge a pitch fee, 30 – 50 % of full conceptual fee. Wonder what’s your take on this?

  4. Hi Gobbs
    I shared the same sentiments with Ken Chee who said “No free pitches especially when I am handling the biz development end unless we are looking a big account.” I would also provide a free pitch if it is a supportive client. Whatever the percentage of pitch fee would depend on the value of the account, but 30%-50% would be accurate. If unsure, can always refer to 4A’s recommendations as a guide. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Well, in our industry of Designs of Greeting Cards, copycats are everywhere. We submit our designers’ designs to MNC. They liked our designs and passed to their advertising agency to print into Greeting Cards. There are many freelancers stealing our ideas. Every year, the copycats are increasing and we keep send them legal letters. At times, we could not detect who are the real culprits.

  6. Sighs! There really is evil everywhere isn’t it? In Dubai we even had somebody attempting to hire one of our creatives (because he thought he came up with all the ideas) just to get away from hiring the team. We also had someone copy our ideas once. Our boss simply put out an invoice and sent it promptly to them.

    In Singapore, I’m not sure. What really is the point in trying when there is no association to protect you (4As?)? Apart from organising “functions” and occasions for people to “net” “work”, these “bodies” really are quite useless. Once upon a time I’ve had the bad experience of seeing my ideas get stolen by someone from a government agency which is a shame (a certain corporate department of a “radio” station previously known by an acronym) and it just about did it for me. If the government does not do something about ethics then the whole private sector will follow suit (see the 3 quotes habit… we know who to thank for that!)
    And are we really a buyer’s market? Yes we are. It seems that desperate times have called for desperate acts of stupidity: polytechnics churning out “designers” like flies and anyone who has a mouse, a PC (yes! Not even a Mac!!!) and made-in-Johor Adobe software are calling themselves designers, who in deeper desperation copy ideas, make coffee and (in some instances) sleep with their clients to make ends meet. Lose-lose situation. What to do? So many losers as a result of a loserly way of public education “administration”! That’s what I reckon!

  7. “We wrote to the Managing Director a letter expressing our outrage and attached with evidence of work plus a bill. He paid.”

    Haha! Go,you! This is the first time I’ve read an intellectual property theft anecdote that ends with And-I-Got-paid.

    Best wishes with your work,


  8. Hi Tribaknoizes
    As I have said in my last sentence of the post, “You are a victim only if you allow yourself to be bullied.”. I might be the victim but I don’t intend to take it sitting down. Playing victim can’t get us anywhere.

    I hope to have your around more often. :)


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