I’ve been creating websites for a long time. I’ve been using inspiration from other designers, color palettes from friends, from cars, from random sketches and paint splatter on dribbble.
If I can, I give credit. If I can, I purchase directly from other designers or artists, sometimes I’m expected to create a lot of things in a short amount of time and low budget, like 10-15 newsletters, within a few hours time: I will use resources like CodeCanyon and GraphicRiver (which I highly recommend). I’m always sure to purchase graphics, designs, patterns, and vectors, only when they are allowed to be used commercially, and modified for such use, or my own personal use.
There are a lot of bad people out there, who don’t do any of those things, I’ve had quite a few run ins with these types of people, and their job titles, LinkedIn profiles, and resumés, truly disgust me.
How I’ve Been Robbed
I’ve had my work stolen from under me, posted with someone else’s name on it. I’ve had my pictures used for commercial purposes, and the owners of these companies arguing with me telling me that they themselves took the photographs.
I’ve had my own watermark used by other photographers or designers, who then claim they were the ones who stamped the image or photograph.
I have had websites taken down with DMCA Requests, mainly GoDaddy, but BlueHost is also very quick to approve requests. I’ve contacted the legal teams of Facebook and Instagram (now one in the same!) to have profiles removed, postings deleted, and accounts changed. All for the sake of protecting my efforts and my morale.
What’s Being Taken From You Now, Nicholas?
My latest ‘home run hit’ CarbonTrimSolutions.com – which I put months of time into, from marketing strategy, product development, brand identity, to the text on each and every page.
It’s been looked at by tens of thousands of unique visitors from all over the world, we’ve made revisions to the site on a regular basis since launching the new site early last year.
We’ve gotten it featured in Business Insider, DuPont Registry, PhoneArena, and countless huge social media pages and followings. I redesigned the site and we worked on a new marketing plan in early 2014, so you’d have to be a fool to copy-paste our business model, product, and marketing strategy in 2015, right? Wrong.
You can find low-grade replicas of my design work, marketing strategy, and Kiran’s products, on a few different websites – check out EliteCarbonFiber.com (update 12/14/16 website dead), CarbonClip.com(update 12/14/16 website dead), and …. The worst offender of all, is…
Have a seat right over here, CarbonFiberCo.com
Taner Tozan, Plagiarist, and Rochester Institute of Technology student studying New Media Marketing as a Business Administration Major, launched a website called ‘CarbonFiberCo.com’ in January 2015 – which initially was brought to my attention by a friend before his site was even launched (somewhere around October 2014), that our product descriptions, product pictures, and various other texts, were found there, on a test website.
I brought it to Taner’s attention on Facebook before his site ‘launched’. We had a few mutual friends and I saw him posting on a random facebook post, I believe it was about entrepreneurship; he assured me he was stealing nothing from me, and that I should not fear competition. He even messaged Kiran, the founder of CarbonTrimSolutions, about my lack of class in regards to our short conversation. Regardless, I offered my best wishes to him, and mentioned I truly hope to not see any of my work on his website, whenever it launches.
Well, months later, it launched, and sure enough – he put a lot of time in to create a nearly identical website to the one I spent months working on.
Item #1 – Product Design
A little upsetting, sure, to see pretty much an identical website, selling a replica of a custom designed product, for nearly the same price, with the same layout, look and feel, and marketing, right? Since the product design is not mine, but Kiran’s I can’t go much into that, as it isn’t personally stolen from me, but from a good friend. Needless to say, yes, that is a stolen product design.
Item #2 – Website Design, Look, Feel
I started to notice more and more: see the “Shop Now” button? Kiran made that, in our signature font we have been using since inception – I compressed it and uploaded it to our website (sometime around April, 2014). I didn’t like it, so when we revamped the home page (in late 2014, before Christmas) – we removed it.
Item #3 – The Navigation
We spent a lot of time deciding how to structure the navigation, we wanted it clean, simple, easy to understand. Initially it was ‘About’, ‘Purchase’, ‘Media’, ‘Support’, but eventually we changed ‘Media’ to ‘Customer Submissions’ due to feedback from friends – but then I took over the decision and changed it to ‘Submissions’ – which it is now. It’s more than a coincidence that the navigation on Taner’s rendition of CarbonTrimSolutions.com is identical to one of our previously used navigations.
So, on to the mentioned customer submissions page – there’s no way he could steal anything here – could he? Aside from the portfolio page style design, which I hadn’t seen very many people do until we did it. You’d be crazy to think that someone would be so obtuse as to lift exact verbiage, after stealing so much already, from the product design, to the marketing direction, right?
Item #4 – Entire Pages and Text
Using WebWayBack, I’m able to page back to the old site (shown above), before we changed the text on this page early December (when we also added more contact forms) – he stole the text, directly off of the page. Straight copy-and-paste artist!
Item #5 – The Product & Product Page
Digging a little deeper, annoyingly disregarding all the stolen text and layouts, I wondered why Mr. Tozan’s product page looked so similar to ours – we spent a lot of time here, working with different font sizes, colors, and widths of content sections, so it looks great on every device…
Obviously you can see the similarities here – though my product photography is clearly better 🙂 – There is an obvious issue of his cases being replicas of CarbonTrimCases – which is Kiran’s problem to sort through, not mine, as it’s his design that he worked hard creating. Did you know of any full Carbon Fiber iPhone Cases before CTS? Didn’t think so!
Well, it turns out he stole an entire CSS file from me!
Item #6 – Custom Wrote CSS Code
Anyone who’s ever written CSS by hand knows their CSS, they know where it’s sloppy, they know when they should’ve used em instead of px (or vice versa), they just know. I know. Thankfully he only stole older CSS, so there’s still a few issues for him to fix, which I’m sure he will just copy my new customizations since he doesn’t seem like much of a developer.
Item #7 – The Footer
Moving down through his site – I noticed a nice little homage to my content writing skills in the footer – see the ‘Sign up’ text? Yeah, mine.
But then I noticed something a little more interesting.. Since he stole old CSS from me – there’s a few bugs that he didn’t work out:
See how the ‘Sign Up’ button is blue on CarbonFiberCo’s website in the screen shot above, whereas on CarbonTrimSolution’s – it’s Orange? For a few days, the CSS on CarbonTrimSolutions.com turned all ‘buttons’ that specific color of blue, basically I used incorrect syntax when defining which buttons I wanted blue, so any button on any ‘woocommerce’ generated page, would turn blue, accidentally changing the previously and supposed to be orange footer button, to blue, on all woocommerce pages – just like what is happening on Taner’s CarbonFiberCo.com Website, see for yourself!
Maybe I should leave little notes and jokes to Taner and the others who steal from me – instead of just funny colored buttons and mis-sized text – they will be embedding my cruel and unusual humor right into their pages!
Item #8 – The Products Box & Packaging
Don’t feel like scrolling through the screenshots and reading the descriptions? I don’t blame you, I tend to use 20 words when 5 will do, here’s a picture of his case packaging… This exceeds ‘coincidence’:
What Can You Do About Taner’s Plagiarism, Nicholas?
Nothing? Can I only wait for the unavoidable failure of Taner’s CarbonFiberCo.com? Well, we both know that without innovation, companies like this are nothing. There’s no way he has the knowledge or resources to keep up with CarbonTrimSolution’s innovations we have planned for this upcoming year.
There are plenty of laws that should be able to protect people like me from people like Taner, there’s certain terms and conditions on some social media pages, which I’ve used in the past to rightfully remove my copyrighted materials from profiles and pages, from Instagram and Facebook to Etsy, here’s one example:
It only took a few hours for Instagram to remove my product photography from someone’s page, who was claiming it was theirs (a lot more emails about that one, maybe I’ll post them!)
Wait just a minute – There are intellectual property laws, copyrights, and ____!
I don’t really know how they work, I don’t have a lawyer willing to help me with this and ‘take the case’ if there were one to take. Starting now, it’s something I’m going to look into, as my companies get larger and larger.
PLAGIARISM: The representation of another person’s work as one’s own, or the attempt “to blur the line between one’s own ideas or words and those borrowed from another source.” (Council of Writing Program Administrators, January 2003,http://wpacouncil.org/node/9. More specifically, the use of an idea, phrase, or other materials from a written or spoken source without acknowledgment in a work for which the student claims authorship.
What I can do today? What can you do if something similar happens?
- Report plagiarism to the offender’s University. In this case, Rochester University’s Department of Academic Integrity (correction: Taner goes to Rochester Institute of Technology not RU)
- File a DMCA complaint to their web host (will be making a separate post about this in the future)
- Request Google black-lists his website due to Copyright Infringement (since my code and images are directly stolen, not just other things)
- Monitor his social profiles for when he ultimately steals our images for his marketing materials
- Send a Cease & Desist (which will get nowhere but worth it for legal documentation)
Moving Forward, Positively and Confidently
I was happy to see Taner had only stolen things from months ago, as he did not quite get to the revisions we had worked on since December. I chalk that up to slow development time or lack of knowledge on how to execute these changes, which makes me a little happy. There’s light after all!
Looking at my old work, literally live on another website, and comparing it to the current ‘edition’ of CarbonTrimSolutions.com – we’ve made a lot of progress on the brand, solidified how we want our products showcased, and more. That’s why Taner stole from us, we are creatives, we are unique, we brought something new to the market and absolutely killed it. I’m proud of the progression we’ve made, and excited for our future.
My take-away from this latest ‘swagger jack’ is that, hey, people are going to steal from you, they’re going to steal your marketing plans, lift code and images right off of your site, try to fool people into believing they are the innovators and the creatives, find a replica of your product, and there’s only one thing you can do about it: continue progressing forward to the future, knowing you are putting an honest day’s work in doing something you’re passionate about, and that the thieves, the lowly scum of the ecommerce world, don’t have that passion.
I hope Taner Tozan does the right thing, and either removes all of our hard work, and designs his own website and product, or sells us the domain, as it’s more ours than his anyways… but you know what? Neither will happen, and he will take his degree in ‘New Media Marketing as a Business Administration Major‘ and try to get a marketing job, and never make it past the first interview, as he’s nothing more than a low-rent plagiarist.
What I want to know from you, Taner T
What do you have to say for yourself? How can you reason these actions to me, my associates, and friends?
Are you going to blame this on your ‘developer’, even though we talked about this before your site went live?
What about the code you stole, the text, the layouts, the product? Did you simply not notice you were stealing these from us?
Are you going to take your site down until all the stolen material is off of it, including but not limited to the items listed above?:
- Product Design
- Website Design, Look, Feel
- Entire Pages & Text
- Product Page
- Custom Written CSS
- Box & Packaging
Let me know, Taner! You can contact me here, via email, twitter, Facebook (if you unblock me from it), or with a phone call. Looking forward to hearing from you.
update March 10th 2015 – it appears as though Taner has disabled the footer on CarbonFiberCo.com – maybe he’s working on removing everything he stole, but chances are his site is just broken.
update January 16th 2017 – two years later and no answer from Taner, though he did attack me on a few social media posts and use blackhat SEO techniques to send unfriendly and unethical links to this page and my other websites, it’s a shame that people like him rampantly and blatantly steal work, are confronted about it, and double down on their poor ethics and behavior