This Little Dog Refuses to Lie Down

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This is the story of 27 dogs, the designers who loved them and the megacorps who tried to eat them. 

Once upon a time, there was a small graphic design studio housed in a pretty green house in a residential Seattle neighborhood. The designers worked hard, made friends with the businesses up and down their street, did great work and grew their business the old-fashioned way: one account at a time. Over the years, their reputation grew and they scored big accounts with international brands. All the while, they volunteered for the local neighborhood association, their childrens’ school, walked their dogs and contributed to their community building the kind of life most of us envy. 


To celebrate their 21st anniversary in 2008, they published a compendium of their best work. The end pages featured an elaborate illustration of the many dogs they had loved over the years, and some they imagined, fitting as the name of their firm was Modern Dog Design Co. The dogs were quirky and full of personality, just like their firm. 

Four years after the book was published to wide acclaim, a fan saw a t-shirt with their ‘Dogs We Know’ dog-dino-collage-900x570graphic for sale at a mega discount retailer. A tag on the product also advertised a movie. No one asked. No one paid. When confronted, they denied any similarity to the original. 

The partners put their heads together in a big dogpile, and decided they were going to stand up to the bully. Copyright law means nothing unless people fight to defend it. But the megacorps have big pockets. Small design firm launched their lawsuit but before long, their pockets were empty. They sold their pretty green house so they could keep fighting the fight, but it won’t be long before that money is exhausted by the chase. 

This is the story of the little guy standing up for what is right. If you believe in the fight, raise your hand and shout ‘Go Dog Go’, then pull out your checkbook and mail some money or make an on-line donation and give to those modern dogs.

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  • Comment Link david obront Thursday, 06 December 2012 03:53 posted by david obront

    i don't want to give you a hard time but am wondering: why don't you show your prior art and the alleged infringing art? you make only an emotional case but withhold the core facts. why?

  • Comment Link Leah Adams Saturday, 08 December 2012 05:55 posted by Leah Adams

    The question you ask is valid David. While I wrote the article, I am not one of the litigants on the case, merely a concerned citizen who believes this is a fight worthy of broader attention. I imagine the designers at Modern Dog have been advised to keep the evidence under wrap until the case comes to court.

    As a postscript, I met the designers last weekend at an event. They said their fundraising goal was met just in time for their deadline.

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