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Publishing of original concept designs?

Discussion in 'Yacht Designers Discussion' started by BjornS, Jun 8, 2009.

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  1. BjornS

    BjornS New Member

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    Here is a topic that may be of interest to openly discuss among the many established and "new" designers ..... whether to publish images of new and original concept yacht designs (make public on the internet or in printed magazines) vs keeping them private for potential future clients only.

    Publishing concepts without a client or ongoing build may be risky since someone may take your original ideas (details, ideas, overall design or future-as-of-yet-not-developed-direction) and run with them before you have had a chance to find potential clients for your work.

    On the other hand, not publicly publishing your work may creates hurdles that may be impossible to overcome as far as getting potential industry partners or clients (owners), who without the published works may never have wanted to talk to you in the first place.

    Some have no problem with publishing concepts and ideas. But most - it seems - prefer to keep the books closed. Personally, I have so far kept the books on the shelf, sort of speak.

    I understand - of course - that many designs under contract can not be published because of client confidentiality agreements, but for the sake of this discussion I choose not to make that sticky element part of this topic.

    Copyrights ... is of course a noble thing ... I do my best not to step on others' work, but having a copyright is just that - noble. It prevents nothing. I have experience with this - even in the courts (having taken legal action). Even patents sometimes are left in the dust. Hard to enforce - especially on one-offs and internationally.

    Would love to hear what y'all have to say - whether you have had experiences with this or you are contemplating similar thoughts - basically pro or against - or just different/alternative thoughts all together. But mostly serious thoughts would be appreciated.

    I have not found a specific dedicated YachtForums 'Yacht Designers' forum thread' regarding this topic.

    Bjorn
  2. AMG

    AMG YF Moderator

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    Hi Bjorn,

    We have been touching this a few times, but there is no right or wrong how you should do I am afraid.

    By publishing you are giving your design a certain protection, mainly because you have fixed a date to it. If somebody is making a copy you can hopefully claim to be the originator. The rest is to what extent it is a copy.

    With production boats it is like with cars, most ideas are copied all the time so what counts is more the first mover advantage. Your design will be reckoned as the original and the other are followers. Unless it is an exact clone, where it can be worth a court case.

    With one-off designs it happens as well, but there the buyer/owner normally don´t like to hear he has a copy of another known design. So the handful of good yacht designers we have would not just take your design and make a copy. That would be too embarrasing for both them, the builder and the owner.

    If for nothing else, the word will be spread on the Internet and the yachting community will instantly know who was the originator and who made the copy. At least this counts for new concepts, details are borrowed all the time....;)

    Btw, if you want to get a patent, you must keep it a secret up to the date you register your application.
  3. CODOG

    CODOG Senior Member

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    Depends on the circumstances really. I've seen both extremes...early conceptual work plastered around the world one minute and actual photographs of a finished boat being pulled from the internet the next.
    Private clients are just that...many enjoy a grand unveiling event after months / years of secrecy.
    Commercial product has to get out there to self-promote. Depending on the stage of design, maybe a taster, maybe full-blown renderings. Its quite common to dumb down the realism on early promotional drawings to preserve some element of surprise at launch, but at least keeping the prospective initial clients confidentially in the loop as the design progresses.
    I'd feel uneasy publishing work without at the very least an intent to produce it, and also some provable dating / provenance for the published design.
    Even a dated / witnessed copy kept with your bank manager / attorney is better than nothing.
    Don't ever publish anything totally new and revolutionary until the above is in place....obviously if a decision is taken not to go ahead with the project after the design is out there leaves it open to others to pick it up and run.
    Maybe the issue is clearer if you separate custom builds apart from series production ?
  4. BjornS

    BjornS New Member

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    To paraphrase Shakespeare's Hamlet ... 'to publish or not to publish - that is the question'.

    Hej Lars

    It is a conundrum. The choice seems so easy ... publish - and get recognized.

    Yet it may be a slippery slope releasing concepts just like that. A few companies (like oceAnco) and some designers(?) do so on a regular basis, yet many others choose not to (for whatever reason).

    The shame factor can of course be something that prevents someone from copying one's work. Perhaps only regarding direct copying. Borrowing elements and overall design, however, opens the playing field wide open.

    One design may be original because of a specific part or element, yet another because of the overall shape and lines. Of course - as an example - a traditional forward racking splash bow vs an axe bow vs a straight 90 degree bow vs a reverse angle bow are not by themselves original ideas. These are just design elements derived from drawings, tests and builds employed since the beginning of human fascination with creating crafts to float on water and withstand the wet elements. Probably all shapes have been done, and most of them can not be protected or patented. At least it would be very, very difficult to get protective bodies to agree with such a notion.

    Personally I am more concerned about protection of the overall design than specific details. Maybe it is easier to protect certain details than overall design? Forexample - in a court case we once had against copy cats - some judges where more concerned about the details than the overall designs, although we as a group where suing because of the overall design infringement.

    To publish concept works showcasing overall designs may be a bad idea? Maybe just publish certain parts or smaller details of the overall design to just peek interest from potential clients may be the way to go.

    Clients who are looking for a new superyacht concept (a one-off) may want to keep things under wraps until the project is afloat. Picking a multi million dollar project off of a public website may not be what they are looking for.

    But if Roman Abramovich's latest megayacht project (world's largest privately owned to be launched in 2010) is any indication, he may have chosen a design concept that was already built as a physical model (more than a meter in length) on display at the Blohm+Voss stand at the 2004 Monaco Yacht Show when I visited with them back then. I also received a business card with that specific design concept printed on it. At the time (and for a few years after) Blohm+Voss also showcased that concept online and in various yacht publications. So ... a concept may have been picked up by a client that had been made public both physically, printed on paper and put on the world wide web five years ago.

    This is a straight newspaper article with an image of the yacht to show which model I am talking about:
    http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/news/...ilds-200m-super-yacht-half-size-Bismarck.html

    This Wikipedia page contains some info regarding the same as above, and a link to the same article above (see the third link under Notes).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eclipse_(yacht)#cite_note-0

    A conundrum it is. To publish ... or not.

    Bjorn
  5. BjornS

    BjornS New Member

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    Hi Codog

    I also tend to go in your direction regarding new or revolutionary design and what (not) to publish. New design is always exciting, but as a designer I would just have a hard time publishing my design before a concrete business is underway.

    Custom vs serial production ... it might just be easier to protect a serial production design against copying vs a custom one-off. More commercial and public entities involved regarding a serial product ... perhaps.

    - As a client purchasing a new design for my future private megayacht, I would certainly make it a point to put the design and the whole process under wraps from start to finish. Privacy and confidentiality would be important
    - As a designer I would like to show my work and find clients without sacrificing ideas and new concept. Very hard to do.

    Dumbing down the realism is a possibility, but I know for a fact that many, many clients need to be shown a design or art as real as it gets or as it is meant to be, otherwise they just may not get the concept at all.

    My head hurts ........ :)

    Bjorn
  6. AMG

    AMG YF Moderator

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    Bjorn, don´t believe what is written in newspapers... :)

    About being copied, I have a design of a classic yacht that has been copied a couple of times, and since it is a classic design it isn´t much I can say about it.

    But if somebody should copy the "hi-tech" design I show here, I would be more upset... :mad:

    /Lars

    Attached Files:

  7. Blarp

    Blarp New Member

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    It is a difficult chicken-and-egg scenario for any designer.
    I guess the designers trick is to fish for a client using a small amount of bait (deisgn teasers) and to fish in the right waters.

    If you dont get a bite, do you throw in more bait in the same place, or take your bait to another fishing ground? Thats the tricky one.

    Publishing on-line would be a last resort for finding a client IMO, although the websites of many designers show what you would think are their best works?
  8. CODOG

    CODOG Senior Member

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    I sympathise with independent designers, the need to promote yourself vs the fear of plagiarism.
    I have a boss who makes these calls, so the concern is out of my hair.
    Plagiarism has been discussed on here before....I remember the conclusion was far from clear, but it was sort of intimated that an 'overall design' is a very hard thing to define and hence prove in law as being copied. Unless (as in the most obvious case raised in that thread) the design in question was sufficiently radical and different from the norm that the styling could be called unique....until another one very similar indeed appeared.
    For me, there are hundreds of larger yachts out there that look very similar when taken as a whole entity... proportionally and general exterior layout. Packaging and client briefs may be behind a lot of this, or a reluctance to move away from an accepted 'type'. These yachts are not unique, they follow established form and proportion that is hard to distinguish from many others. Is this plagiarism or is this conformity.
    Unique design then, is perhaps the most dangerous to publish, yet the easiest to confirm original ownership too.
  9. BjornS

    BjornS New Member

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    Lars - I believe everything I read in the news ...... ;)

    You have a point with the yacht designs you showcased above. And being copied is never fun.

    A question may also be whether an overall profile, parts of a profile, specific details/elements, or the sum of all parts should be considered ... unique? And therefore ... protectable? And can design be protected at all if publishing online for the worldwide audience to steal, pillage and take over? I openly ask anyone this, because it is a difficult subject to wade through.

    At one point the classic yacht profile may have been an original(?) on someone's wooden drawing board (drafting papers, pencils and erasers included), yet it may also simply have been a smooth evolutionary step or slide forward without specific distinguishable features that could set it apart from established designing norms of its time or from its past. Here are some of the grandparents of the classic you showed above:
    http://www.flickr.com/groups/classicmotoryachts/pool/show/

    If someone would make a simili (not 100% copy) of your 36m as you presented it above, would you be able to prevent that or protect it? There are plenty out there who would take a design and run with it - changing an angle here and there - add a different mast and change the shape of the portholes ... slightly ... and most likely get away with it.

    One of your designs was "stolen" a while back - the 'down under'(?) connection - they seemed to have taken some or most of your design elements from one of your superyachts (can't find the link for it this moment) - at least - that's what it seemed like to me they had done. Did anything come from that?

    I know we also briefly have touched upon some legal issues regarding copyright laws on different continents before, but - in general - it is hard to protect something as soon as the cat is out of the bag and on display to the public. Some protection may come from the public's knowledge of who the originator is, but does it protect from being copied? Probably not.

    Bjorn
  10. BjornS

    BjornS New Member

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    Blarp

    Good points. If no fish - change tactics ... and territory ... or just follow the chicken across the road ...

    I think my ADD brain has an issue with this chicken and egg scenario. But that is exactly what it is all about.

    Online publishing is scary, but perhaps necessary. How to do it - successfully - without giving away the secrets or hardly any details, is key.

    If not publishing online - how would you approach the work of finding and signing new clients/owners? Go to their corporate offices and knock down the doors? Try to find out where they do golf? Etc, etc? Just asking since these are real issues facing many independent designers today who may not already have the right connections.

    Any inputs or suggestions anyone?

    To publish or not ....................................

    Bjorn
  11. BjornS

    BjornS New Member

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    Codog

    I hear you.

    Now - how to go from there, get the word out, and yet protect the work that needs to be protected? Or perhaps just finding ways to directly contact potential owners instead of online publishing? Probably not easy - otherwise everyone would do it. Or maybe most are too shy or scared to go that route?

    Hmmmmmm ................

    Bjorn
  12. Blarp

    Blarp New Member

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    You might have the best design in the world hidden in your laptop but it is doing absolutely no good gathering dust in there. You have to be in it to win it, which means taking some risks and getting your designs out there in the world, but in a structured way.
    Sure you might get a bloody nose and get ripped off occasionally but thats happenned to almost every designer working out there right now.
    If someone rips you off, then consider that imitation is the best form of flattery and move on to the next boat (after publicly shaming the plagurists online of course).

    I started by drawing something up for a company and approaching them by literally putting my portfolio in the car and driving to their offices. They liked it and took me on. So I would recomend specific targeting before an online release. I dont think enough people try this. You dont have to be a stalker and find out where they play golf, just go to HQ, thats easy to find. :D
    Anyway, posting designs on forums is probably not going to get it noticed by very many clients or employers. If it was good work, you would only get a bunch of other designers crawing over it anyway which is of little benefit to you personally.
    :) B
  13. AMG

    AMG YF Moderator

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    Bjorn, if you have a specific design you would like to sell, you can approach the builders you have in mind or a yacht broker dealing with this kind of boats.

    I am not afraid to publish either, but then you have to decide how you would like to be percieved. Like Fexas or Dubois, making a certain style, or like me, doing everything...:D

    (About the big yacht design that was copied from me, thanks to YachtForums I have got the inside story, so should they have proceeded I would have had a pretty good case.)

    What I have done to get my designs out is pretty simple. I started a boat production company six years ago where we develop a new model every year, number six and seven are now underway. This keeps me busy and I am now very reluctant to take on outside projects. Time is too valuable...
  14. 84far

    84far Senior Member

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    Hi All

    i was just about to put some pics of an SF i designed on here and this thread popped up, like always i read and see how the thread develops, and i guess this is why this forum is so great, the advise u get off here is golden, and it gives a great heads up.

    in my case because the SF industry is so competitive, and just in case i was on a winner, i have removed a few details that will make my design different from the others. eg, i have changed window design, flybridge detail, motor in/outlets and replaced them with something less original. but i guess how much u take off and still keep your original appeal there is always up for debate.

    Blarp, i would love to know a few things like size of boat u are talking about, superyacht size etc? and when u did approach the company were u seeking a design job or were u selling him your designs under your own company?

    question for all, do u have to pay any royalty for a design that u would like to mold to your own design at all or type of vessel u would like to design... eg, i heard your not aload to use the term 'Picnicboat'... any comments?

    far
  15. 84far

    84far Senior Member

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    AMG

    is it possible to know which boat was copied from your folio? thanks

    far
  16. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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  17. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    To paraphrase Wilson Mizner: If you steal from one designer it's plagiarism; if you steal from many it's original.

    "Art is either plagiarism or revolution."
    Paul Gauguin
  18. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Actually, I believe the quote is: "If you steal from one author, it's plagiarism. If you steal from many, it's research." It also expands the list of suspects when you're found in an alley.
  19. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    Maybe that explains why I used the term "paraphrase."
  20. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Paraphrase: noun, a restatement of something using different words.