What's the price of protecting your creative work? Perhaps the price of your home or office...and then some. And that's exactly what designers Robynne Raye and Michael Strassburger of Modern Dog Design Company in Seattle, WA are facing since battling in a lawsuit where they allege that artwork from their book, "Modern Dog: 20 Years of Poster Art," resurfaced on t-shirts without their permission.
After filing a complaint in October, 2011 against the Target Corporation, The Walt Disney Company and a few of their subsidiaries who sold the t-shirts, the design duo decided to sell their Greenwood studio in June of this year, to relieve some of the financial burden of the proceedings.
"A year ago, when it was brought to our attention that this had happened to us, I don't think we had any idea what the next year was going to be like," says Raye. "If I didn't have that piece of property, I'm not sure we would have been able to get started on the case."
Considering the personal attachment to the property, selling was an extremely emotional decision said Raye, who cried the day she handed the new owners the keys.
And though the loss of the space was difficult, without selling it they would not have been able to finance the lawsuit, which is still costing more than the designers could have imagined. In addition, they've set up a fundraising site, Friends of Modern Dog, in hopes to raise enough money and keep their company from going bankrupt.
"Luckily, people have been stepping up and wanting to help, and so we're starting to get some of those resources through our fundraising site. Other than that, it just virtually feels impossible," Strassburger says.
Modern Dog Designs is just one of many small companies who are in copyright infringement lawsuits. Over the past two years, Etsy designers in particular have sued major retailers for using their designs without permission.
For more information, head over to Friends Of Modern Dog.