Their ordeal started one year ago (Sept 12th, 2011) when a fellow designer sent Robynne Raye and Michael Strassburger (owners of design studio Modern Dog) a photo asking if this was their work on a line of Disney products being sold at Target. It absolutely was their work, but it had been copied and was being used completely without their permission.
They thought they had an easy, straightforward case to win, so they entered into a lawsuit. This has now dragged out for 12 months and since their jury trial date is in September of 2013, it’s guaranteed to go much longer still.
As such, Robynne & Michael have decided to sell their house in order to fund the lawsuit, and are calling out to the design community to help:
We remember what is was like to start out with nothing. We do it because we love creating, and we love design. It’s our whole life. But here is what we have learned: copyright only works if you are willing and able to protect it. Like a lot of small businesses, we don’t operate with a reserve account for emergencies. And it’s not possible to apply for a lawsuit loan[…] so unless you have a rich uncle, you are on your own.
You can help them out by donating to their lawsuit fund, and read their complaint (PDF).
For anyone who has ever tossed around the phrase “Well you should just sue them!” for cases of obvious copyright infingement, please understand that the system is just not set up to make things that easy (unless you’re rich, or a huge corporation, which sounds so clichéd but it’s true). It can take years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more, even for cases which are so obvious a child could decide a fair judgement.
(via Friends of Modern Dog)