I'm involved in no less than three suits right now, and it's breaking me financially. Legalities prevent me from saying who they are against...but they stalk my blog and mine my sites for designs on a daily basis, so I bet they're reading this right now. All I have to say to these people is this; it's NOT cool to steal someone's designs and call them your own. That "three differences added and it's MINE" defense only works for fashion design, not art, so get that idea out of your head. Merimask is a trademark, and I've been busily linking all my copyrights to my trademark, and all registered under the category of "art", not "fashion". Trademarked elements are always protected. Underselling a popular artist with cheap badly-made versions of their own designs isn't just cowardly and lacking in character; you're going to be liable for royalties/damages by the time I get through with you. And yes, I'll fight this if I have to take a second mortgage out on my house. It's a matter of principle now.
That said, I have to tell all my fans and followers this; I'm learning quite a lot about copyright infringement in the modern era via my attorney, and I wasn't aware that really, public campaigns against infringement are not only completely legal, it's encouraged. There's no such thing as defamation or slander if what you're saying is the truth. I get notices ~daily~ from DevArt followers and friends, showing me this or that example of either my images or my designs being exploited in ways I wasn't aware of and do not sanction.
So do me this favor; if you see something of mine out there, and it's on someone's site and you don't see "merimask" anywhere in the credits, call them on it. Or if you see an online craft shop and some hack is trying to sell a clockwork rabbit mask with all my design elements on it, badly executed and priced at a third of mine, supply them with a link to my original and ask them how they sleep at night. You can do this. It's perfectly ok for you to do this.
I'm very visible and that makes me very vulnerable to this kind of crap. You don't have to be bitten by a big shark to bleed to death in this ocean; hundreds of bites from little fish can kill you too. At this point I'm having a hard time wanting to keep coming up with new designs. Not for lack of ideas, but because I'm sick of seeing everything I come up with copied within weeks (or even days) of inception. I started making art so that I could support myself, and now it seems like I'm making art to support perfect strangers with no scruples.
But here's the good part; I KNOW there are so many people out there who really love what I do. I've always been open and encouraging towards new artists and I've been an active part of the online art community, and I've made many friends out there. If there's an army of copycats and cheats, there's also an army of admirers, customers and supporters of my art. I'm certain of it.
I'm asking you guys to be proactive. Don't get abusive, don't be trolls. Do link sources when confronting a copycat or thief. I have completely documented every one of my designs in my DevArt gallery here...everything is dated, copyright-protected, and unalterable proof that I came up with my design when I say I did, and you are welcome to share those links and images in public for everyone to see.
Don't let me bleed to death alone here.
Merimask's Designs on stage with Katy Perry!
detron.en.alibaba.com/product/… ...which was stolen from here: merimask.deviantart.com/art/Me…
They even put their watermark on my work. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. I find dozens of new listings like this every week. There are hundreds of listings like this...foreign companies using my images to sell their products (sometimes, just to bait and switch, and cheat people), without my permission.
Should I be flattered?
Speaking from experience, I know how discouraging and taxing (emotional, physical, and monetary) lawsuits are, even if you're right and 'winning'. (Only the lawyers win.)
Unfortunately, there are always going to be hanger-ons and leeches to those with real imagination and skill, but do your best to persevere. As much as possible, try to keep their antics from discoloring your world... after all, there is a huge difference between a genuine Merimask creation and a cheap knock-off.
My prayers are with you.
That said, it happens all the time, unfortunately. It's far easier in the modern age to take ideas from people online and sell them as your own. DeviantArt is rife with this sort of theft, especially from Asia. Many Asian countries don't have copyright laws, so they think it's OK to take stuff from all other countries, too.