Were these clients expecting original logo designs?

Quite often these days I am receiving emails, tweets, Facebook messages and direct messages, from design professionals around the world, expressing concern that they have come across a logo design that was much more than inspired by one of my own original identity creations. I really appreciate the vigilance of the design community.

In February 2012, one copyright infringement situation was brought to my attention by way of a personal email from a designer in Denmark, a tweet with the offending page link and a direct message from another designer on Twitter. Much of the concern shared by other professionals has been the result of the design industry's recent experience with LogoGarden and the large number of copyright violations of my own work found via Google reverse image searches.

Recently I received an email from a design peer in Texas, expressing his concern that he'd come across a rip-off of one of my designs in the online portfolio of an Austin designer (above). In viewing the example, I immediately knew that he was referring to the Neighborhood Service Center logo I designed for the City of Portland's Office of Neighborhood Involvement - an image that evolved from an earlier local government agency identity I created in 1999. In responding to my online design pal, I explained that I would suspect that the Austin image had somehow been inspired by my design, but it didn't appear to be a literal rip-off.

Still, my curiosity was piqued - and I did a Google reverse image search using the logo image from Austin. Initially, I found a Shutterstock graphic (above) that was being sold by the company until at least 10.12.10. I suppose it was "inspired" by my design, as there are some very obvious similarities. I then came across numerous sites around the world offering the image for sale or as a free clipart download. The search then resulted in finding many logo designs making use of the image, or variations of the graphic.

Here are some of the examples I discovered:

• Logos for a real estate investment concern; a Chinese company marketing first aid kits; a television show in Argentina, student housing accommodations in Syria, home medical services in Illinois, and a Michigan county program (with watermark lines from a clipart site still in place when enlarged).

• Symbols representing a glass and window business in Bangladesh, a real estate firm in Andora, a nonprofit organization in Scotland, a Chinese real estate representative, a website in China and an insurance company in British Columbia.

• Images including those for a "design contest" in China (with the contributor being called out on the site for not submitting an original design), a business selling Turkish products in Russia, a window manufacturer in the Ukraine, a Pakistani student organization, a health care program in Michigan and an architecture firm in the Czech Republic.

• Identities for a Canadian community grants program, a Chinese job placement firm, a real estate broker concern in Brazil, a Russian news-related website and an in-home health care business.

I also found the image being used as an illustrative element on many websites, the cover graphic for a National Household Education Survey Report book in China and in many other applications.

With the image found in use all over the world, I wonder how many of the owners of these businesses, and organization administrators, think they are represented by a truly original design - and how many designers represented their work as such.

© 2015 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Three paperback design book releases highlight the identity work of Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

The logo design efforts of Jeff Fisher, the Engineer of Creative Identity for the Portland-based firm Jeff Fisher LogoMotives are featured in three recent paperback book releases from major industry publishers. The examples are featured in the books The Best of Letterhead and Logo Design and Letterhead and Logo Design 11 from Rockport Publishers, and The Big Book of Logos 5 from Harper Design.

The Best of Letterhead and Logo Design contains Jeff Fisher's identities for Black Dog Furniture Design and the triangle productions! theatre company shows The Food Chain and Girls' Night Out. Logos for writer Kimberly Webster, retail establishment Peggy Sundays, and the 100-year-old W.C. Winks Hardware were also selected. All of the businesses are in the Portland metropolitan area. The volume is a collection of the best designs from the previous four Letterhead and Logo Design books released by the company between the years 1999 and 2007.

Compiled by the firm Design Army, the book Letterhead and Logo Design 11 features the Jeff Fisher LogoMotives design concept for the Cat Adoption Team.

The Big Book of Logos 5, a nearly 400-page volume from authors David E. Carter and Suzanna MW Stephens, showcases designs for the Benicia Historical Museum (Benicia, CA), Four Rivers Community School (Ontario, OR), the annual golf tournament and auction events for Residence XII (Kirkland, WA), Twisted Elegance Interactive (Seattle, WA), The Parenting Alliance, and the Young Native Writer's Essay Contest sponsored by the Holland+Knight Charitable Foundation (Tampa, FL). An icon produced as part of the international Fluerons of Hope - Font Aid III effort, benefiting those impacted by the tsunami of 2004, was also selected.

Portland clients highlighted in the volume include interiors firm NoBox Design, the VanderVeer Center anti-aging clinic, the City of Portland's Neighborhood Service Center program, Bella Terra Landscape Designs, the AIDS residential care facility Our House of Portland, and architect Thomas Fallon.

Logos for the community activist organization Association for Responsible Inner Eastside Neighborhood Development (AFriend), the Reed College Fall Thesis programs for 2004 and 2005, The Spring Showcase presented by the Philoptochos of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, and the now closed Balaboosta Delicatessen were also recognized.

Identities honored for North Portland individuals, organizations or events included those for community organizer Mike Verbout, St. Johns Window Project, Portsmouth Neighborhood Association, North Portland Business Association and University Park United Methodist Church's annual North Portland Pride BBQ and Festival.

Selected designs include images created for George Fox University's Tilikum Center for Retreats & Outdoor Ministries (Newberg, OR) and the Emerge Medical Spa at Bridgeport (Tigard, OR).

Gay/Lesbian community logo images to be in the book include designs for Just Out newsmagazine (Portland, OR) and the Diversity Training program of DiversityBuilder.com (Brentwood, TN). In addition, my "I DO!" image, in support of same-sex marriage, and the logo for the designer's own marriage to partner Ed Cunningham are celebrated.

An identity created for a presentation at the 2004 HOW Design Conference was also published.

Fisher, a 35 year design industry veteran, is the author of Identity Crisis!: 50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands and The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success: Ideas and tactics for a killer career. Other book projects are currently in the works.

The designer has received over 600 design awards and his work has been published in more than 160 books on identity design, self-promotion and the marketing of small businesses. He often travels – nationally and internationally – to present courses, seminars and workshops on design, branding, marketing and social networking. In addition, Fisher is a nationally-recognized speaker, making numerous presentations each year to design organizations, design schools, universities and business groups.

More information about Jeff Fisher, and his design and writing efforts, may be found on the Jeff Fisher LogoMotives blogfolio.

© 2015 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives