Modern Dog Finds Itself In A Copyright Dogfight

Anyone in a creative business is susceptible to having others take their work, copy parts of it to incorporate into something new, or steal it outright.

Seattle design firm, Modern Dog, has found themselves right in the middle of this problem. A design of theirs, featuring illustrations of “Dogs we know” and “Dogs we don’t know,” was imitated and used for T-shirts co-branded by a major entertainment conglomerate and sold at a major retailer.

This video compares the original illustration and the copied T-shirt:

Now, in attempting to sue for copyright infringement and pay the legal bills, Modern Dog has had to sell the Seattle studio they’ve worked out of. Needless to say, the legal battle has turned out to be longer and more protracted than they expected.

If you’d like to help them out, and read more about the case, check out Friends of Modern Dog.

Have you had to sue a client (or another firm) for copyright infringement? Do you worry about putting your portfolio online for someone to easily snatch? In advertising and design, where’s the line between “it looks similar, but it’s just a coincidence” and “it’s a blatant rip-off”?



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.