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They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - yeah try telling that to the Fraud Squad.
But generally, what better way is there to demonstrate how right someone else has got it than by simply copying them. We've been able to see this trait across many generations. Scores of people unable to see a way of doing something better have fallen back on simple imitation.
Here are some of my favourite examples:
Lotus F1 vs. Force India F1
Force India F1 are currently in the process of suing Lotus, claiming they stole the design for their Formula 1 car (pictured right) for the new Lotus F1 car (wind-tunnel prototype pictured left).
I'm sure they're probably right, but not being a huge Formula 1 fan I can't really tell the difference between any of the cars, they all look pretty similar to me. Hmmm, maybe they're all just stealing from each other?
Toyota vs. Geely
This one makes me laugh every time, they really couldn't have been more blatant than this.
You might think there's no way in this day and age someone would get away with stealing the logo from a company as big and well known as Toyota.
Well ..... you're right. Toyota sued them and won. So there you go.
Disney vs. Disney
Another personal favourite, this one just goes to show you can steal off yourself. Disney clearly can't be bothered to redraw every frame from their cartoons, so it looks like they reuse them.
But hey, at least they're reusing their own work - I don't think we can be too upset about the evil empire on this occasion.
Google Buzz vs. Uno
Hmmmm. At first I wasn't sure about this one, but the more I look at it the more I think it could be possible. The circular logo is very very close to Uno's, and the colours are spot on. I also noticed today that the Google Chrome logo is essentially a circular, squashed together version on the Microsoft logo. The four colours used in the normal Google logo are also the same colours used in the Microsoft logo.
Considering the size, or more specifically the bank balance of Google, I'd expect a little more of them to be honest.
Buran vs. The Space Shuttle
Some say that it's the laws of aerodynamics that dictate the shape of any given aviation solution. Other more rabid American senators claimed that espionage was the root cause. I suppose if you put stuff in a wind tunnel, you'll wind up with pretty much the same shape really. Buran (Snowstorm) was in some respects a far superior vehicle to the Space Shuttle. It never crashed or blew up. Maybe that's a consequence of it only ever flying once, but only because the Russians ran out of cash, not because of any intrinsic design failing. It's first and only flawless flight was unmanned and completely automated and it didn't use the solid propellant boosters that gave so many problems to NASA. Bits of tank insulation tended not to fall off, punching holes through the fabric of the spacecraft and the re-entry tiles were a bit more advanced and tended to stick in place too! In fact, some people have suggested that this triumph of Soviet-Era space technology is resurrected as a replacement for the American Space Shuttle fleet to continue to service the International Space Station.
And last but not least....
Fresh Egg vs. Freshegg.ca
There's imitation and then there's imitation on steroids! Which presumably means that it transcends flattery and verges on outright worship! I don't suppose you can get much more imitative than copying the company name, the logo style, the colourway, the product offering or the proposition and range of services, the market segment or suggested areas of expertise. Exhibit No. 1 m'lud is the comparison of these two logos as below. If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, then this is the design and business equivalent of John Hinkley obsessively stalking Jodie Foster!