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someone passing my work off as their own.

(29 Posts)
MrsFlorrick Thu 31-Mar-16 13:58:47

I run a small interior design business.

I have recently finished renovating and extending my own home. I have ploughed several £100ks into this.

House looks amazing. I designed every single element inc the extension (my back ground and first degree is in building surveying so have technical knowledge as well).

I acted as my own main contractor with every trade working directly for me.

Two days ago I found out that the painter and decorator has taken interior shots of the house without my knowledge or permission.
Furthermore she has been passing my design work off as her own!

Everything from colour schemes to bespoke furniture. She is even claiming the bathroom tiling my tiler did is her work!

This will ruin me completely. She has plastered all this all over the Internet which means I will struggle to get an interiors magazine to publish (they want first dibs).
And no articles means it's almost all wasted and won't make any contribution to promoting my business.

I am appalled and very upset. She was a crap decorator and I've had to book someone else in to come and tidy up some of the poor bits she has done.

Surely this isn't allowed? I designed everything I have drawings, 3D perspectives etc etc to prove it. Along with the fact that she didn't even buy paint. I bought all they paint for the decorators to ensure I got exactly what I wanted and not poor quality cheap colour matches.

She has announced to the world that she is a designer and that the entire refurb of my house is her work. I can prove I didn't even meet her or any of the other decorators until the very final stage of the project.

What can I do to stop this?? I am hoping someone here have some ideas.

The damage to my reputation will be pretty immense as her work is poor quality and people will associate my work with hers. Which means those clients will have been taken for a ride thinking they were getting my work but actually would get God knows what.

Any one with experience and soothing words would really help.

MrsFlorrick Thu 31-Mar-16 14:50:24

Hopeful bump.

GinIsIn Thu 31-Mar-16 14:54:30

You need to send her a cease and desist letter asap, if you google it you can get a template online.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Thu 31-Mar-16 14:56:03

Have you written to her and told her to remove the photographs and untrue statements?

I'd also have a word with trading standards in the first instance.

If she doesn't take it down you'll probably need to seek the advice of a lawyer specialising in intellectual property or similar (sorry i don't know what the correct term would be) but I would expect that to be pricey.

Finola1step Thu 31-Mar-16 14:57:54

What did she say when you contacted her?

Jkycc Thu 31-Mar-16 14:59:47

And in the meantime I would be posting on every form of social media (yours and hers) what she has done. Politely, not rudely, but very, very firmly.

flanjabelle Thu 31-Mar-16 15:02:29

Definitely seek proper legal advice op, she can't get away with this!

MrsFlorrick Thu 31-Mar-16 15:03:23

Thank you all. That's helpful

I have contacted her. She doesn't see the problem but has started to remove some of the images this afternoon.

However it won't stop her using them when she goes to quote for work though.

I can't decide whether I'm furious or want to cry. Or both.

I just cannot believe the brass neck.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Thu 31-Mar-16 15:05:57

And in the meantime I would be posting on every form of social media (yours and hers) what she has done. Politely, not rudely, but very, very firmly.

I really would not do that. That's likely to make her antagonistic and blow the whole thing up. What the op wants is for this woman to take down her untruths and the photos taken without permission so she can get her magazine exposure. If there's even a hint that someone else may lay claim to the work or that there's some sort of controversy they're going to run the piece.

Op, ask her nicely but firmly to take them down and then if she refuses seek legal advice.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Thu 31-Mar-16 15:08:09

She can't pass off the work of others as her own. Trading standards will help with that.

Do you have a contract from when you engaged her services with clauses regarding ownership or work and association? I'm in a different line of work but when I work for a company I have several clauses relating to association, confidentiality and ownership of work at the end of the period I am actually on the job.

Starman16 Thu 31-Mar-16 15:14:14

An organisation such as the Design Trust might be able to help you with how to proceed with an IP dispute

www.thedesigntrust.co.uk/design-right-and-copy-right-for-designers-and-designer-makers/

MrsFlorrick Thu 31-Mar-16 15:24:20

Moving. Yes I have a contract which firmly sets out what she did (apply paint to walls).

I've not contacted Trading Standards yet as I wanted to limited damage by getting stuff removed from Internet and then take it from there.

Star man. Thanks for that link. I will have a look.

Whilst plagiarism doesn't surprise me (ie coping room layouts etc) I am stunned that anyone would go as far as take photos of someone else's work and proclaim it as theirs?

I am trying to put a brave face on it as the DC are home with me as its school holidays. I want to cry. More than a years worth my work.

BawbagBiggins Thu 31-Mar-16 15:34:19

If she doesn't remove your images and stop referring to it as 'her work' I would explain you will be seeking legal advice and also sending her a bill to cover whatever income you will loose out on due to loss of contracts with the magazines etc.
It doesn't do anything to recover your reputation, however it may make her take onboard the seriousness of her blatent lies.

MrsFlorrick Thu 31-Mar-16 15:43:48

Bawbaggings. Thanks. I am hoping she will remove them all and put a sock it in frankly.

Roll on bedtime for the DC so I can crawl under my duvet and sob quietly. sad

firstlift Thu 31-Mar-16 16:27:58

I work in IP, dealing with design rights and copyright. I would strongly recommend contacting trading standards as a first port of call, they can be very effective. If that doesn't work, I would get in touch with an IP solicitor. Be careful sending cease and desist letters without getting advice - there can be pitfalls.

BitchyComment Thu 31-Mar-16 16:31:18

I'm not suprised you are mad. That's so cheeky of her. I hope you have taken lots of screen shots etc.

noeuf Thu 31-Mar-16 16:31:30

Take screen shots! You need prove !

MrsFlorrick Thu 31-Mar-16 17:22:56

Firstlift. Thanks. That's very useful. I didn't realise there could be issues with cease and desist letters! If you don't mind me asking, First, what sort of issues?

Nouf and Bitchy. I have screenshots etc.

At the moment I have verbally asked her to remove and made it clear that it's not ok to use photos of my home taken without permission. And that taking credit for my work is not ok and that I would be seeking advice.

In all honesty I wanted to rant and rave at her and send solicitors after her etc but I've kept calm and started with the removal of photos.

I think trading standards are my next port of call.

It's very hard to stay calm and collected to be honest.

I'd be angry enough if it was just photos but the proclamation that she did the entire renovation and "designed" everything is just beoynd the pale. She couldn't even apply paint to walls properly. Most of the cutting in around all of the ornate cornices will need to be redone in most rooms.

Just so angry.
All my work and my livelihood just stolen like that.

Anyway. Thanks for all the advice.

noeuf Thu 31-Mar-16 17:26:05

Hopefully it can be remedied? How extensive is coverage of her work? Professional or just her own pages?
Totally gutting I can imagine.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Thu 31-Mar-16 17:35:03

If she's as crap as you say she won't be able to do the work and she'll soon have a string of angry reviews.

JaneAustinAllegro Thu 31-Mar-16 17:40:08

have you paid her?

Also - I'd look at the issue of her having taken photos without consent in your home - if they were taken from within your home (i'd assume so) and not from a public place outside, they have committed a trespass - they had consent to be on the property to paint but teh minute they started the unauthorised activity (photographing) - they committed a trespass.

are there any personally identifying items within the photos, such as images of you / your family? you can potentially suggest a data protection issue if so

you should require delivery up of all hard copies, digital files stored anywhere and get written confirmation of deletion from all sources including backup.

MrsFlorrick Thu 31-Mar-16 18:35:07

Janeaustin.

I've paid as job was complete. I did withhold money for snagging which I am now going to spend on another (better decorator to tidy it up).

They were all taken inside my home at various times whilst she was working here and completely without my permission.

How do I go about demanding hard copies and deletion of material? Is it as simple as stating in a letter that she has committed a form of trespass and the photos are unauthorised?

I'm loath to pay a solicitor. Civil issues are so expensive. The last time DH and I had a civil issue a few simple letters cost thousands.

Moving. I'm sure. Although due to my work I do have extremely high standards

MrsFlorrick Thu 31-Mar-16 18:37:04

Janeaustin. No photos of myself or family (I'd have noticed sooner smile).

There are photos of other tradesmen in a few of them but not many.

This is very stressful. I feel like an idiot.

AgainstTheGlock Thu 31-Mar-16 18:39:22

You've just spent 300k on paint and furniture - give your head a wobble and pay for a solicitor's letter.

CurlsLDN Thu 31-Mar-16 18:42:27

Hello, I am a senior PR manager, and deal with getting my clients in the press all day every day.

When you say she has already published the images, do you mean on her site/social media, or through the press? If it's not through the press then interiors magazines won't care, they only care about being first to print amongst their competition, to ensure they aren't bringing up the lead on a story. It's fine for those photos to exist outside of media (unless you are an a-list celeb selling a scoop to hello mag, of course!)

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