“My Life, My Card” Not Original Says Man Behind “My Card, My Work”

According to the press release from the law firm of Newberg & Winters LLP, freelance art director Thomas O’Keefe has filed a lawsuit against Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, Digitas and American Express for copyright infringement, trademark infringement and misappropriation of advertising ideas.
O’Keefe has been using the trademark “My Card, My Work” as an identifier for his services since early 2003. In mid-2003, he registered the domain name mycardmywork.com. The Complaint states that in late 2003, Mr. O’Keefe sent his resume and work, including all of his material from the My Card, My Work website to both Ogilvy and Digitas, seeking possible retention as an advertising designer or art director.
In mid to late 2004, more than a year after Mr. O’Keefe designed and launched the “My Card, My Work” campaign on his website, American Express, with the help of its advertising agencies, Ogilvy and Digitas launched American Express’s now extremely well-known “My Life, My Card” campaign. Coincidence, or foul play? The courts will decide.
Of course, I have no idea who is right and who is wrong in this case. The press release makes a case for the lone AD. But do creative directors looking at books really steal ideas that later become famous ad campaigns? I know that’s what it looks like, but it all seems a tad preposterous. What say you? Have you had your ideas stolen by a desperate CD?

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.