I was reading this article "On the care and feeding of ideas" and it got me thinking. I generally keep a notebook with me where ever I go. I write down lyrics, ideas, to do lists and I tend to sketch a lot of ideas about what I want to make.
At the moment I am going through the design process for a new bag. I was rather pleased with the design of my market bag and so I want to try something a bit different. New features, new shapes. Something uniquely Konstant Kaos rather than someone else's idea with some ric rac sewn across the front of it. Being a practical person, I spent hours thinking about the "practical edge" that I am going to give this bag. Perhaps I should be doing some more random planning, as Emma Greenwood puts it.
McCalls pattern and then mass produce it ...
Pip writes an excellent article called "All my own work" where she talks about the grey line in crafting. Just because you can make it, doesn't mean you have the rights to sell it. Just because you buy the pattern, doesn't mean that you have the rights to mass produce it and on-sell it into shops. Just because you own the book, doesn't mean you can mass produce the images in it, and so on!
So where does this leave you? If you feel that someone has crossed that grey line copying a design of yours for profit, I would first familiarise yourself with IP Australia. Talk to the guys at Craft Victoria, become a member, support what they do, talk to one of their business development managers. If you are going down the path of challenging the IP of a product someone has produced, then a lawyer (yes a lawyer) will most likely ask you to "prove it". So keeping sketchbooks, blogs and prototypes is essential. And perhaps if your design so unique, trademark it, put a patent on it, protect it.
Someone at some point said that there is no new ideas in this world. But as a crafty community, we should be mindful that there is enough business to go around. So what, you had this idea to make a product and another crafter got there first ... respect that they got there first and use it as an opportunity to re-invent what you were working on.
Something I generally do when I am about to go "live" with a new product is I do a quick search just to make sure it isn't too much like someone else's product (etsy, madeit, general blog search). Even though I might have developed it myself, we are of the same crafty generation and sometimes ideas just collide.