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WoozieJu Woozie Ju Bears
North Walsham
Posts: 435
Website

As many of you know I'm fairly new to the bear world but I've been contacted today by 2 separate bear artists who I seem to have caused a problem for by designing & producing parts of my bears similar to their own designs.
All my ideas come from my head & I would never set out to copy anyone else or cause any problems for anybody?
My question is, how do you know if what you're thinking up & doing is similar to someone elses? Is there somewhere you can check before you actually make & try to sell the bear?
I'm really upset by all this as this is my hobby to get away from the stresses my day job causes me & I never knew that issues like this could arise?
I'd just like to say sorry publicly for any offence I've caused anyone - it truly was never my intention bear_cry
Luv & Hugs to all,
Julia x

All Bear All Bear by Paula Carter
Kent
Posts: 5,157
Website

I'm sorry to hear you have had this problem Julia.  This is such a touchy subject with many bear artists because of course, no one likes to feel 'copied'.  The vast majority of bear artists would never dream of deliberately plageurising another artist's work and try very hard to achieve their own 'identity' in their work, occasionally though, a similarity occurs unexpectedly and conclusions may be drawn that a copycat situation has arrived but (and this is a big but!) I am sure that in most cases this is NOT what has happened at all. 

From time to time bear artists may have similar creative ideas with no knowledge whatsoever of the other person's work.  In fact this happened to me quite recently ... I created a new bear, putting my heart and soul into his design, only to be shocked when I came across a photograph of a similar bear.  Now hand on heart, I had never seen the other maker's bear before and I know the other bear's maker definitely hadn't seen my bear.  It was simply a case of two bear makers, having a similar concept, at a similar moment in time.  Unfortunately, these things can and do happen. 

Having said that, both bears, although similar in style, were identifiable as their individual creator's work because they both had that all important signature 'identity'.

So my advice to any bear maker in such a situation is: work hard to achieve your signature identity because ultimately, that will ensure your work is always instantly recognisable as your own.

minkbears Vintage Mink Bears by Kathy Myers
Lakewood CA
Posts: 1,387
Website

Hi Julia

I will be watching the answers to this thread with interest.

I have been a Teddy Bear Artist for 22 years and my work has been published countless times, which is wonderful.... but this exposure also leaves your work open to being being "copied" either intentionally or unintentionally. In my experience I find that my collectors are more upset than I am. Over the years I have received letters, phone calls and emails from my collectors to alert me to certain artists whose work is way too similar to mine. Personally, it does not bother me. Probably because I am one of the "old timers" and I know all too well that no one can copy your work exactly (not even yourself). And my creative energy is always thinking ahead to the next design...so if my work is being "copied" it is an old design that I have already made improvements on...I always try to stay one step ahead.

Way back when I was a new artist my work probably had similarities to my favorite artists, that is to be expected...that's how we learn... but with each bear that you create you will start to develop your own style. It takes time. Creating teddies should be a joy so keep sewing and don't worry about your work looking like another artist because your designs will change as you play with the pattern designs. Stretch your imagination and try sometime outrageous ... just to get the "fun" back into your sewing.

bear_thumb ~ Kathy

SueAnn Past Time Bears
Double Oak, Texas
Posts: 19,526

SueAnn Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

There is a topic in our library (Copyrights/Trademarks) that is full of information concerning this problem, Julia.  So sorry that you've been accused of copying.  My opinion is that similarities between artist bears are just going to happen from time to time, but it certainly doesn't have to mean that one artist is copying another.   :hug:  :hug:

eteddys eTeddys
Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 880
Website

Julia,
I would ask those who contacted you if they sell their patterns.  If they answer is no, then how could you have possibly infringed on any copyright?  Also, you stated that you make bears as a hobby.  I would assure them that bear making is a hobby for you and they should in no way feel threatened if your work seems similar to theirs. 

I'll tell you a little story.  Years ago, I made a set called Pumpkin & Pie.  Pumpkin was a bear and Pie was a pumpkin pie.  Pie was indeed, a mohair pumpkin pie, complete with felt crust.  I was pretty darn proud of such a strange idea and NO ONE had ever done it before.  But you know what, someone sure did after.  Pumpkin and Pie was an idea, it was my idea but it wasn't copyrighted.  Did I contact the other artist who made a Pumpkin & Pie?  Heck no!  She didn't copy my pattern, she made her own version of Pumpkin & Pie using her own pattern.   For all I know, a collector who liked her work said, I saw this set, can you make one for me in your style?  I felt sorry that she wasn't imaginative enough to come up with her own thing but that's her problem, not mine.  I still have one thing I can call my own, Butternut & Squash.  I don't think anyone's been weird enough to attempt their own version of that one!  I still have collectors ask me about those 2 every now and then.  Boy, I must have been trippin' on something that year.  I had some crazy ones!

Keep enjoying yourself!

Alison

WoozieJu Woozie Ju Bears
North Walsham
Posts: 435
Website

Thanks everyone for your helpful advice. Sue-Ann thank you once again, I've read loads of the info in the library & it's very enlightening if somewhat of a minefield..
I feel terrible as I've been so proud of the new design I have for my bear faces. (It was a middle of the night experience when I couldn't sleep where I thought "I know, rather than putting in a face insert & needle felting just a nose, how about needle felting the whole face to make it stand out?") I'm totally mortified to think that someone would think I copied their ideas as I see this as a total waste of time? I want my work to be original & associated only with me so that it's something I can be proud of & that people want to buy due to it's originality. I've looked at the website of the other artist (who I'd not heard of before today) &, sure enough, there are many similarities in the facial design. I'm so embarrassed & just want to make sure I'm never in this position again due to what is obviously a total coincidence? I can fully understand how upset I would feel if someone used the designs I have worked so long & hard on to get just right & don't want to put anyone else in that situation. It seems from all the other threads on this topic that this is a common problem & it seems to be up to individual bear artists to "police" it themselves to a certain extent?
I really hope that I never come across this issue again as it leaves everyone feeling bad bear_cry 
Luv & Hugs,
Julia x

WoozieJu Woozie Ju Bears
North Walsham
Posts: 435
Website

Thanks Alison, I think our messages must have crossed when I was adding the last post?
You won't believe this, but when I first started making my bears I called one Pumpkin Pie as he was made in an orange tipped plush fur & it was Halloween & then, later, one called Butternut as he was made from lovely soft yellowy/mustard coloured fur just like butternut!!!
It really must be true that great minds think alike!!
Thanks for making me feel better :hug:
Luv Julia x

eteddys eTeddys
Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 880
Website

Julie,
There have been a bazillion bears named Pumpkin Pie.  But, I only know of 2 with actual mohair pies.  And, it's no surprise you named a bear Butternut.  The bear I made with that name was made from mohair in a color called butternut.  I was just weird enough to make a squash with a goofy face to go with it.  Ideas come from all over the place.  You can't copyright an idea.  I made a Frankenstein bear one year, I"m sure it had been done a million times before.  How many angel bears, etc. are out there.  These are ideas and there are many ways in which to interpret them in the fur.  Who was the first person to needle felt a face onto a bear?  I'm certain it wasn't you or the other artist in question.  People need to be realistic.  We are all making the same thing, teddy bears.  While this is my job and I take it seriously, I try not to be too serious about it. 

Hugs,
Alison

WoozieJu Woozie Ju Bears
North Walsham
Posts: 435
Website

LOL Alison!!
I can honestly say it would never have crossed my mind to make an actual butternut squash with a face?! Maybe we all have to accept that we have to be a little bit mad to do what we do?! As for a furry pie?..... Hmmmmm???!!
Bless your heart, you're right, let's not take life so seriously!
Big Hugs,
Julia x

jenny Three O'clock Bears
warwickshire uk
Posts: 4,413
Website

Oh gosh...This is a place where lots of new artists find themselves..and I have been there myself and know how upsetting it is. I think the thing to do is to recognise the artists may have a point but it doesn't need to stop you from being a bear artist, You just need to try that much harder to establish 'your look'. I think that fact that you are posting here means you have integrity. Many people would just carry on regardless. I have seen lots of work lately that I think looks very much like other artists work but I do think in most cases the makers eventually find their own muse and move on. I think in the long run it's not worth getting upset over because you will find your very own look ...

WoozieJu Woozie Ju Bears
North Walsham
Posts: 435
Website

Thank you Jenny. I would never have done this on purpose & of course won't do anymore bears in this style now that I am aware someone else has already created this design. I honestly don't think there's any point in being a bear artist if you're just copying the work of someone else? What's the point if it's already been done? If anything, I just feel stupid that this has happened & am only keen that it never happens to me again!
Luv Julia x

karenaus Melbourne
Posts: 694
Website

Heh, I designed a bear yesterday for something that I have named Butternut before I have even finished sewing it- again from the fabric. I don't usually name bears until way after they are finished.....

   On the similarity thing- well no there is nowhere you can go to check out, just keep your eyes open in magazines, at shows, on blogs, on teddy talk etc.. but if you know inside you have not copied then don't feel so bad. Similar ideas cropping up at the same time from different artists happens a lot. It's funny when you chat with bearmaking friends and you discover you have similar ideas  brewing!:)

   The only downside  though if you are wanting to sell, is that you want collectors to recognise your bears as *your* bears, not mistake them for someone else's. It must be frustrating for you but chances are you will keep growing and moving as an artist and your current look will change anyhow. Take a look at what those artists are doing and re-evaluate it yourself.. and if you feel you have accidentally come a bit too close, just look at it as a challenge to grow as a bear artist and find your special niche:)

lovenshire Love and Cuddle Nursery
Missouri
Posts: 945
Website

I am confused...this is a confusing topic.  On the one hand I would never want to copy another artist work but on the other hand...is therre any combination of bear parts that hasn't been done?  I see all the beautiful bears show cased on here and there is not a one that I haven't seen done before I don't think...Different colors different fur perhaps but come on...after all these years it's all been done before!
I recently made a bear with bent legs and arms and after she was finished, I found a pattern with her bent legs and arms.  So I copied a pattern that I hadn't seen yet????  So sorry! bear_innocent

FenBeary Folk FenBeary Folk
Pointon Fen, Lincolnshire, UK
Posts: 2,234

I posted on your picture but will post again  bear_grin

Julia, if you didn't copy then DO NOT FEEL BAD, none of us invented the teddy bear and as the other have said, ideas coincide. I happen to think you should persevere with your idea, as this may well lead to your signature look.
I have a bear on ebay at the moment and have been looking at the other bears and I cannot recall seeing a bear like yours???? Sometimes you find not all artists are as nice as they are on here.

I think Alison has made a huge point about copying, anyone can do this BUT to have an idea, a concept makes you an artist  :hug:  :hug:  :hug:  :hug:  :hug:

Rinn Posts: 22

So strange....I was just wondering about this the other day!

I mean, surely there are only so many shapes and combinations of shapes, sizes etc that you could make a bear.

I hadn't thought about ramifications of very similar designs.

Isn't it more about the fabric, sculpting, trimming shading etc that gives each bear its character and brings it to life?

What about if you use a pattern you have bought from someone?  Can you sell it as your bear, or do you have to sell it as the pattern producers?  If the bear isn't as good and the pattern producers Im guessing that they wouldn't want their name to it anyway  bear_wacko

Will be following this thread with great interest.

All Bear All Bear by Paula Carter
Kent
Posts: 5,157
Website

Creating bears to sell from other bear artists' patterns is in the main, a no go area.  Most bear makers who sell their patterns copyright them for 'personal use' only.  That said, there are a very few who are happy to allow commercial sales from their patterns - but I wouldn't recommend making that assumption unless you have express permission to create for sale from the pattern designer.

To sell a bear as an 'artist designed' collectible bear, I think you should design your own pattern and create your own style of bear.

Interestingly, in the cloth doll world, it is very common for doll designers to sell their patterns and allow makers to sell their made-up dolls from that pattern, so long as the original pattern designer receives a credit for their design on the product and on sellers' websites etc.

lovenshire Love and Cuddle Nursery
Missouri
Posts: 945
Website

Boy, I guess Ideal and Steff should be suing us all!!!

Karon Posts: 751

This is an interesting thread.

There are only so many ways a bear arms, legs head etc can be changed.

A couple of years ago I bought a pattern by a well known artist.  Once I made him up he looked decidedly plain so needled sculptured the pads, shaded the face, varnished the nose added a belly button.

I saw the artist at Kensington and showed them the bear - they very politely said he was very good - I said "but don't you recognise him, he's your pattern" and they genuinely didn't.  I had done nothing to alter the pattern but all the extra work had made him very distintive.

I don't sell my bears (unless a friend or colleuge wants one) and probably make about 10 a year at most - design my own bears but I also buy other artists patterns - sometimes to reproduce that particular "look" however I would dream of trying to sell someone elses design bear.

Getting back  to the subject of design though - take a "traditional" 1900s style bear, its all been done before.  Long arms, big feet, long snout and humped back as Lenora said its a wonder Steiff are not sueing us all!!

Unless something is a blatent obvious copy then perhaps  we should learn to chillout.

Karon

FenBeary Folk FenBeary Folk
Pointon Fen, Lincolnshire, UK
Posts: 2,234

I think you are right Karon, there is a big difference between using an idea, running with it and blatantly copying

Its enough to put new artists off!!!!  bear_angry

Lenora....................I will wait for Steiff's letter, I am very influenced by old bears and I put humps on their backs !!!!!  bear_cry

Karon Posts: 751

Sue

What you said in your reply is exactly what I mean.  Your bears are old style teddies but they have a distintive look - in the pattern stage I beat they are no different to other traditional bears, its what you actually DO to make them look different.

By the way I love your bears

Karon

FenBeary Folk FenBeary Folk
Pointon Fen, Lincolnshire, UK
Posts: 2,234

Ah Thanks Karon, thats really sweet of you  :hug:  :hug:  :hug:

I just found it totally ridiculous that some one can be accused of copying needle felted faces and you are right my scribbled patterns look no different to those in books that I have. 

Bear artistry would not have evolved if it were not for people developing their own ideas from others initial ideas

I remember a post a while back regarding copying and the artist concerned (non TT member) had loads of bears for sale virtually identical to many well known artist..........................now that's copying

KJ Lyons KJ Lyons Design
Seattle, WA
Posts: 1,413
Website

kjlpatternpieces.jpgOh! THEre are many ways to create your own pattern and there must be an almost infinite number of bear patterns possible, most not discovered yet.  bear_happy IF you decide to create strictly traditional bears that somewhat limits your options for patterns but there is still room for creativity. Here's one of my cat patterns:

dangerbears Dangerbears
Wisconsin
Posts: 5,914
Website
FenBeary Folk wrote:

I will wait for Steiff's letter, I am very influenced by old bears and I put humps on their backs !!!!!

I'm a member of the Steiff collector's club, and one day I received a letter from Steiff informing me of a trunk show at a retail store in my area.
My husband took one look at the return address  on the envelope and said, "This must be a 'cease and desist' order from the Steiff lawyers."  bear_happy

Becky

FenBeary Folk FenBeary Folk
Pointon Fen, Lincolnshire, UK
Posts: 2,234
dangerbears wrote:

I'm a member of the Steiff collector's club, and one day I received a letter from Steiff informing me of a trunk show at a retail store in my area.
My husband took one look at the return address  on the envelope and said, "This must be a 'cease and desist' order from the Steiff lawyers."  bear_happy

Becky

I bet you could have kissed him for that one

Jack&Lilia Jack & Lilia
Gloucestershire
Posts: 3,488
Website

Julia don't be put off making your cute little bears....keep going with the needle felting and your own style will develop along the way....the nature of needle felting means there is no pattern and you choose how little or how much you add as you go....just have fun and see where it takes you!  bear_flower

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