toy digital

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New friends in 2018!!

Ok, question: Would you mind/like if I start posting drawings like this? I mean without colors (just few arrangements or values). That would allow me to save time and produce more drawings. Moreover, and personally of course, I think that sometimes they look even better just like this and some details don’t lost. 

(ღ˘⌣˘ღ)

All’s fair in love and fish plushies

I’m about to do something I wouldn’t normally do, and share bit of drama concerning another company. I’ve been trying to keep this professional(ish) but recent happenings have pushed me to want to talk publicly about it and to make folks aware of what has been going on.

So you folks might remember I began making Otocinclus plushies in around November 2016, and they were a big hit! I can’t remember the exact inspiration that brought me to making suction cup mouthed plushies, but it was certainly influenced by their name “suckermouth catfish” as well as other plushies I’d seen online. Little did I know, this would be the beginning of DRAMA™.

In January 2017 I posted some photos of my Otos in some local fish groups and was snapped up by a local aquatics shop called New Concept Aquatics (who are now my business partners, woo!). I gave them some examples of my work including a suction cup Oto… who was promptly snatched up by a writer for The Practical Fishkeeping Magazine, UK and was featured in the April issue! Exciting Stuff!

… However, throughout all this the owner of the company called Green Pleco, who produces suction-cup mouthed Pleco soft toys, got in contact with me. They claimed to hold a patent for “soft toys in the shape of fish with suction cups for mouths” since 2013, demanded I limit production to 25 a year or pay them royalties for each one sold.

Which would be fair, I suppose, if they actually had a patent for this. I stopped producing Otos whilst I negotiated with them. They were not able to give me a patent number. They’re based in the US, and I am in the UK so even if they did the patent would probably not even exist over here.

At the same time I was doing whole bunch of patent searches and research, including getting some help from friends and some trainee patent lawyers on Reddit who couldn’t find this mysterious patent either.

Another hole in this story is that there’s loads of examples with soft toys with suction cups attached “in the wild” already prior to 2013, including Plecos! Here’s some examples I could find easily by the plush artist I admire, Whittykitty:

I actually contacted Whittykitty and it turns out they’d been contacted by Green Pleco too, despite their Plecos being made in 2011, before Green Pleco even started making plushies! Their advice was to just ignore them, and after all this research I agreed.

I contacted Green Pleco stating pretty much all this, and after being unable to come to an agreement they said they’d put me in touch with their lawyer, which never happened.

I was ready to move on with my life, and Green Pleco had faded into nothing more than a joke (I’m sorry, you can’t do X because I have X patented). One day I stumbled over to Green Pleco’s page again, only to see…

Now, this could be some kind of magical coincidence that Green Pleco has suddenly branched out into a totally different style of printed fabric, but it does look extremely similar to the plush fish I’ve been producing recently. HMMMMM.

Oh, look, apparently these are patented too.

Here’s my Corydoras sterbai for comparison:

I’m pretty annoyed, but the purpose behind this post (other than for me to publically vent my rage) is mostly to let you guys know I have nothing to do with the plushies Green Pleco are producing; they’re using their own artwork and patterns and are nothing to do with me.

There’s nothing I can do in this situation, because unlike GP I’m not claiming to own a patent to “soft toy fish with digital designs printed on fabric” that I don’t have.

It doesn’t mean to say I can’t be a little bitter about this, though. Bastards.