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Friday, August 23, 2013

Just because I am paranoid doesn't mean the Chinese Factories are not coming to get me

It happened. It finally, tragically, "In the cross-hairs of the AK47" (this really is what it felt like)....Happened. 

Dr Brassy, yours truly, got on the radar of the Chinese Factories, or should I say "Factory" and not only did they do a horrific, laughable, 2nd-grade copy of my art, but they also cut n' pasted my Trademarked and Copyright protected name of "Sightmares" ™ ©  as well. Did you see the mushroom cloud over San Luis? That was my brain exploding when I saw it.

It was, and still is, a shocking and sickening feeling. I can only liken it to the feeling of being raped...artistically.  I felt helpless, hollow, ill, small and pissed-off. I wanted to reach out and touch slap someone-6,700 miles away. 

So there's "Copying" and we all know the form that usually takes, there's the "Gee I just am so inspired by your Genius that I wanted to make one" kinda, sorta, like yours for my (Insert name of family member, cat, dog, lizard, or imaginary friend _________here). Then there is the 300,000 square foot factory with 800 Chinese workers churning out tens of thousands of copies of your Art. Yes, YOUR Art. 

I won't talk about home-grown copying in this blog post. I am going to talk about "The Monster". The one that will eat you up (and be hungry again in 30 minutes) and there is not a Judge, a Court or a snowballs chance in hell that you can do anything about it. 

Or can you?

 A copyright is a form of protection given to the creators of an original work. Examples of original work might include poetry, music, pictures, literature, movies, art, etc.  A copyright gives the creator of the material the authority to make copies of their work, distribute copies of their work, change their original piece of work, and control how their work is distributed throughout the community.  This was made a law on January 1st of 1987.  The author's/creator's work is protected throughout their lifetime and 50 years after their death.

 A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.

When you get to a certain point of fame in the artist world, you are going to get on the radar of some of the most unsavory folks. With any luck it will be a small potatoes operation or someone who just works at one of the large factories. If you are lucky, it will be someone who pockets a few dozen of the millions of pieces that are turned out and then sets up their own online shop and markets those pilfered factory pieces as hand-made. You and I, and anyone with an I.Q. above 50, can see that the items are not even remotely hand-made, but there they are. 

Like I said, this is if you are "Lucky". This person may be trying to copy your art, but they have no financial backing.  Even though they are not in the USA, a quick notice to "E"1 Legal (1 Rhymes with Met-Z who IS in the USA) and a stern but professional "Take this down now" direct message, complete with Copyright and Trademark info, is sufficient in getting the pirated piece removed. 

This was the "Lucky" scenario. My scenario. If you aren't "Lucky"- It's a full-blown factory approved piece, originally ordered from you that has been reverse engineered and is now the unwilling Mother to thousands of pseudo-clones that are headed to grace the shelves of a Hot Topic, Spencers or Claire's near you.

"It's getting difficult to find s*#t not from China" ~ 08/20/2013 ~ Megg S.

This is my friend Megg, doing what she does best. Letting it all roll out in one big, unfiltered, honest commentary. And....she's right.

Outsourcing everything that this Country was built on and in the process securing unemployment rates that are stuck above 15% (do not believe the newspaper reports of 7 something-NOT TRUE) with no hope of ever coming down- Is *Fiscal Insanity (*Dr Brassy for President!). 

There's a whole history of "Most Favored Nation" status laws and Federal Subsidies-Import and Export favoritism Blah-Blah-Blah... that I could go into...but I won't, because by the end of it I will be flaming mad-Again. 

Now not everyone "Over there" is a bad person. Individual people are gems. Both Karen and Agatha are kind, honest, wonderful ladies and I like them both very much. This isn't about individual people, this is about a Corporate/Government.....Culture of trouncing on the little guy. 

So what happened to me and what can you do to protect yourself?

A friend sent me the heads up. I am blissfully working my 74 hour week, when I got the email from James,  "RIP OFF ON _______" (Rhymes with "Get Z"). I am forever grateful to the people who by accident or intent, go out and look for copies of my pieces. They are so valuable to me and to any artist. I just love you guys to bits. I get messages and sometimes it's something not even close to my work, sometimes it's a friend of mine and we did a collaboration so it looks sort of like one of mine, and sometimes, THIS time, it's a full blown RIP OFF.

I posted the offender to my Facebook and I got a landslide of support when the word got out that my Sightmares ™ © hit the Chinese Factory radar. By support, I mean people who wanted to push me over the edge so my husband might come home from work to find me suffocated in the cat litter box with a note pinned to my back that read, "The Sincerest form of Flattery-My A$$!!!!!!!" . Ok so maybe those people were not as much supporting me as trying to find the bright side. Like when you get in a car accident and you lose your left arm and someone goes "Well lucky YOU that you're right handed". Yea. Those people. 

Most of the people who viewed the pirated piece went all "Erin Brockovich" on the Pirate, reporting and messaging, defending me like only real hit men, friends can. Please remind me never to piss any of you off. 

So I said, "You can't do anything" but then I said, "Maybe you can"... I am not trying to drive you insane. Let me explain what you can do.

#1) Never ship anything to China. Make it harder for them to get one of your pieces and they will move on to the next guy. 

#2) If you have something really special and if you have a name for it and the branding behind it-probably most importantly, if you have money to burn. You CAN do two things. File for a Copyright and Trademark. They are not overnight protections and I have heard they can take up to a year to get, but once you do get them, you have the teeth that you need to bite the Pirates in the booty. 

Many people go ahead and file Trademarks themselves here  Trademarks

and Copyright here Copyright

I am either too busy, too paranoid or too lazy (or all three). I did not want the chance of filling out a form wrong, missing a dot on an "I" and getting my applications denied.  So I chose these folks and so far, am very happy with the service they provide. Legal Zoom

 I love the personalized assistance they gave and the fact that they do these all day, every day, so they know what the US Government wants to see, to put the stamp of approval on your Copyright or Trademark. 

#3) Sign or makers mark your work. 

What can't you protect? If you are using all factory supplies, glued together to make something else-You can't protect that. If you are calling something a name that is used everywhere, say "Beaded Necklace". Nope, can't protect that either. But if you are creating something completely unique in style/materials/process that no one else is doing AND it's your own original design, AND/OR you came up with a name that nobody on the planet is using (Good luck with that!), AND if it can both poop golden eggs AND float 3 feet above the ground!!!...well....THEN you have something there!!!   Ok half kidding, to be serious if you have something completely unique, and if this is your primary source of income or you hope it will be, then you have a very good case in having something to protect. 

How much does it co$t? 

Copyright(s) the way I did them was about $400.00 and the Trademark(s) $700.00-So $1,100.00 in all. Not cheap my any measure. There is lots of conjecture about once you put something on the internet, it is an instant Copyright. Good luck fighting that in a Court of Law. Even worse, good luck getting someone to take down their rip off just because you claim you made one in 2001 and listed it on Ebay. 

What am I going to do?  I am going to be much more diligent now that it has happened once.  I am sure it will happen again (and again, and again...) and that is the price I pay for being "Out there". 

The other thing I will start doing is signing each and every piece I make. It's one more way for people to see that what they are holding in their hands is a true Dr Brassy, Original. 

Beyond that, I am going to eat a lot of Chinese Food. You know what they say, about keeping your enemies close? I have mastered the use of chopsticks, will be starting Karate next Tuesday and all along I will try to keep my sense of humor because there is one thing I do know. My friends/fans have got my back. 
Emperor Penguins Bowing seemed appropriate here-I don't know why.


Dr Brassy "Watchful Dragon" Steamington


  1. A special numbering system also helps. Each one has a unique certificate number that is NOT sequential but might follow a pattern. That goes into a database (spreadsheet)for future reference along with the buyers name (even if gifted the purchasers name goes in).

  2. Dr. Brassy,
    I feel for you on this one! Thanks for fighting the good fight, and may the redhead (with lightning bolt) win!

  3. Thanks that you are so passionate about fighting back against the counterfeiters. We need to maybe circulate running lists of the names of the businesses that do this often so we don't ever give them business, China run or not. People in the U.S. do it all the time.
    I also wish patents, copyrights and trademarks were a little cheaper. They are priced as if we are already at the top. The little business can't afford it.

  4. I appreciate your thoughtful response to a major piss off. Great info.

  5. I am so sorry to hear about this, and hope your effort to copyright and trademark means you can prevail. Your Sightmares are so beautifully crafted, they are ARTWORK and not just trinkets.