Industry claws back on copycats – and the tom cat is on the prowl

Merv and Lynne Thomas, co-owners of Tom Cat Cards on their stand at PG Live.
Merv and Lynne Thomas, co-owners of Tom Cat Cards on their stand at PG Live.

Following on from Berni Parker (namesake owner of Berni Parker Designs) sharing the shock discovery, (see the story on PG Buzz from March 13) that her designs were being featured and offered for sale on the www.gearpassio.com site without her permission, Merv, who co-owns card publisher Tom Cat Cards with his wife Lynne, investigated the site.  He was disgusted to spot designs from several artists that appear on its cards, are also being used without permission on the same website.

One of Kim Haskins’ designs that appeared on a tote bag illegally in America.
One of Kim Haskins’ designs that appeared on a tote bag illegally in America.

Investigating further as to what action he could take, Merv has this advice for anyone finding themselves in a similar situation. One of its artists, Kim Haskins has had this happen in the past so she has become a dab hand at getting it sorted. “Her first line of defence is to notify PayPal, providing the website in question handles payment via PayPal of course. They will investigate and if they find a breach of copyright has occurred will stop the website in question being able to accept PayPal. As you can imagine, a web shop unable to take payment is kind of stuck up the proverbial creek without a paddle to paddle with.”

Vicky Mount’s designs were also used illegally by the gearpassio.com website.
Vicky Mount’s designs were also used illegally by the gearpassio.com website.

Merv also recommends reporting a DMCA infringement for any site using PayPal.

The plucky publisher has also done a bit of investigation on behalf of artist Vicky Mount and found that the offending website is hosted by Shopify. “I contacted them and they have also been helpful. I have finally managed to get each offending item taken down. I think we were lucky in that the gearpassio.com site was hosted by Shopify and I guess they have a reputation to uphold so were willing to cooperate,” elaborates Merv.

The tote bag using Berni Parker’s images illegally that first alerted her to the IP theft.
The tote bag using Berni Parker’s images illegally that first alerted her to the IP theft.

He is also gratified that since the original complaints, gearpassio.com has taken down all the Disney, Jeep and Harley Davidson merchandise along with most, if not all of Berni’s work.

Tom Cat’s designs and Berni Parker’s are among the brands that have now been removed from gearpassio.com
Tom Cat’s designs and Berni Parker’s are among the brands that have now been removed from gearpassio.com

“It’s a small victory, but we need to maintain a watchful eye to see if it appears again or elsewhere. The main problem is the sheer amount of merchandise on the site. In the cat category there are 280 pages with 12 items per page to wade through. That’s a lot of tote bags!” he points out.

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