Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Halloween Spirit

This past Halloween season, I was alerted by a few people that Spirit Halloween was selling a prop that resembled a scarecrow that I had featured on my blog...one that I had built for the film MR. JONES.  I took a look and definitely felt it was a rip-off.  The combination of weird long fingers, vintage dress, and an almost out-of-place doll head seemed too much to be a coincidence.  So I reached out to Spirit.  One of their lawyers responded telling me that he didn't see the similarity and that Spirit purchased the prop from another company.  He didn't tell me the name of the company, but I had already been informed by one of the folks who had initially alerted me that the company's name was Tekky Toys.  After a couple more emails from me, he simply stopped replying.  Their position was clear.  They just don't care.

I chose to sit on this and just move forward, as proving something like this legally is very difficult and very expensive.  Today I saw the below video from an artist on Instagram and wanted to share her familiar story, and my little experience.  

Click below...


Otaku said...

I have a similar tale. Several years ago, I designed a prop that, when triggered by a PIR sensor, would turn on a pair of LED eyes and vibrate by means of a small offset-weighted motor. You would mount the prop in a small bush and it would shake the branches and leaves. I posted the design and circuit schematic on one of the well-known Halloween sites. Oops...
The following year, Spirit was selling my prop in their stores. When I asked about the prop, I was told it was a very good seller. This wasn't the only time this happened.
After that experience, I stopped posting my prop designs and shared them only with trusted forum members.
Obviously stores like Halloween City, Spirit etc troll the hobbyist sites for new product ideas that they can steal.
It's frustrating, I like sharing ideas, but I got tired of being an unpaid design engineer.

Rot said...

That’s really terrible. I’m sorry that happened.

I’m really hoping she wins the lawsuit.

Lady M said...

These are all such obvious rip offs. Think I am done with spirit Halloween. I make a Joke that Pier 1 stole my dancing skeleton motif. I can no longer find the piece they were selling but it looked just like something I had made. I think big box companies don't want to pay designers and just steal ideas online. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the lawsuit.

Rot said...

I totally believe your design was stolen. A lot of these companies blame the foreign designers they hire from other countries, saying they are the ones who violated the intellectual property rights. That they're simply selling the end result and aren't in any way responsible. Which is utter nonsense if you've been enlightened that you're selling stolen designs.
Just a matter of doing the right thing.
Praying this lawsuit makes them more aware that people are watching.
I won't step foot into a Spirit Halloween ever again.

Rot said...

Also wanted to point out that they're using a forest background like in the original photo I posted on my blog. You'd think they would have gone with something less organic, like an old house or a weird doll room, but nope. It's like they tried to match the photograph from where they got the idea.

angesoie said...

This is so disheartening, especially for folks that love the halloween season and look forward to soaking up the "vibes" at Spirit. I may have to breakup with Spirit after this- this is happening again and again to artists and creators- and it seems like Spirit is banking on those folks to not have the resources to fight the theft.

VeraL said...

Okay, so they didn't find the exact same doll head and that makes it all right in their eyes. I don't know how artistic rights work in the US but yeah, they probably can get around it by claiming that a random person in some long overseas chain is responsible. You will likely find more of your stuff being "borrowed."

Revenant Manor said...

It’s depressing, but these stories have become all too commonplace, and the truth of the matter is that everything that drives the decisions made by these corporations is essentially binary…will this action generate short-term profits, yes or no?

In the case of Spirit in particular, it’s been clear for quite a while that they view our Halloween-loving community as a reservoir from which to steal concepts and siphon cash as opposed to being a mutually beneficial ecosystem to support.

There is no Department of Integrity, or Director of Rectitude to guide their actions. There is only the P&L and the machinery that protects it. Consequently, the ONLY way to reach them is through the same channels.

Their bottom line has to be materially affected by reduced traffic due to diminished reputation, financial ramifications through legal means, etc. Nothing else matters to them, and ‘right vs. wrong’ is not even a consideration.

Since the legal route is prohibitively difficult to pursue, that essentially leaves exposing the behavior in the Halloween-related forums, blog posts like this, and social media campaigns such as the linked Instagram post, and hoping that the negative attention ultimately drives a correction.

As a direct result of their behavior, I’ve long since stopped visiting or even considering them during the run-up to the season, and can only hope that as more people hear of these types of stories, they do the same.

Rot said...

Yeah. It used to be a part of the annual ritual, but it seems absurd now to walk into that store. And, sadly, we're not even talking about that much money here, as the typical artist commission is 5% on the WHOLESALE price, not the retail price. So most of the artists being scammed could easily be paid by these companies, and everyone would be happy. But nope.

MR. Macabre said...

This is messed up, "borrowing" someone else's ideas and hoping that no one notices. I don't plan on doing any more business with these clowns as well.

Tjalgahorn said...

I remember seeing this and being quite upset about it. Yet another example of this company's lack of integrity among the already countless occurrences. They have cemented themselves as THE Halloween store, and the widespread public opinion is that Spirit is THE fun, quirky, "feed your Halloween addiction way-too-early" destination. They market themselves as "off-beat counter culture" in the most corporately digestible way possible. I refused to give business to them last year, and this year will see a continuation of that decision.

I swear, if I had a dollar for every time I saw Spirit selling stolen designs, I'd have enough cash for the legal fees needed to sue them.

I firmly believe its time we start to actively spread awareness of this. I'm tired of seeing the same mass produced $300 props in everyone's yards anyways.

Tjalgahorn said...

To add to my previous point of spreading awareness:

I believe that spreading awareness amongst our fellow Halloween people is what has the potential to enact change *on our current level*. Of course, those who have the resources to pursue legal action should do so. For the rest of us who cannot afford to sue, spreading awareness is the next-best route.

I'd wager that the majority of modern Halloween practitioners are fundamentally opposed to corporate art-theft and mass-produced profits built on a foundation of stepped-on small businesses. Unfortunately, the majority of Halloween people are misguided, having fallen prey to the widespread and HIGHLY effective integrated social media marketing techniques employed by SPIRIT. That's where we come in.

Talk to your friends, and convince them that if they want to support you and what you do, they should NOT shop at SPIRIT. Keep posting examples of blatant theft like this. Keep these conversations alive online. We need to kill the consumerism being pushed on us to scramble for expensive props and costumes (It's the same rampant consumerism we all despise about Christmas creep, by the way, but everyone is willing to make an exception because "sp00ky")

Let's endeavor to take more of a stand this Halloween, starting now. Enough is enough.

Rot said...

Thanks so much for sharing your opinion on this ugly topic. I really appreciate it. In the absence of being able to fight these people legally due to the expense, it's been nice getting so much support from an awareness point of view. People are definitely angry. And they should be. It wouldn't cost these companies much to do the right thing. And it would lead to better products and a wider support base. And lots of respect.