Garden design is a creative business and there are always people ready to claim the work of talented individuals as their own.
In our many years as garden designers and landscapers we have had the public steal from us on occasions, but sadly, other landscapers and designers have done the same.
I don’t just mean plants, paving slabs and machinery, although this sort of theft was a continual problem; I am referring to our intellectual copyright on drawings, planting lists, brochures and other promotional material.
Drawings have been stolen from our display in the office, to reappear as completed local gardens; photographs disappeared every week, presumably for similar purposes. Landscapers have guided their clients around our demonstration gardens to finalise their sales.
With the growth of the internet it is even easier for your competitors to steal from you and much harder to protect your hard earned reputation. If you post photographs of your work on Flickr they may end up on the web site of another landscaper. Your Terms and Conditions, perhaps written by costly professional advisers, could well go the same way.
Here’s an amusing exercise I recently tried and if you run a company you might like to do the same: type into Google a part of the text from your web site or brochure, or the file name of a photograph you have posted somewhere and hit the “search” button. The cover of our brochure, written by me with a little assistance from a copy-writer and used in a couple of our web sites in two languages, says this:
A garden bursting with life – a celebration of your home and a credit to your neighbourhood.
A place of glorious calm after a hard days’ work, secluded from the trials of everyday life.
A spacious, sunny enclosure for fun and recreation with family and friends.
An outdoor room affording space in the fresh air for when you’d rather be outside than in.
A garden can be all these things and more.
Simply point us in the right direction and we’ll make it happen.”
Type this into Google and amazingly it points, not to one of my sites, but to that of Gardening Express .co.uk, who have copied my text verbatim to sell garden design on their own site. Flattering, of course, and if you have little talent as a writer and can’t afford to employ someone who has, you may feel this is a good option. Unfortunately, there is the little matter of intellectual copyright to consider. This text is my property and cannot legally be used by others without my consent.
But now I’m really flattered and excited: Midas Touch Landscapes, a company based in Bushy, Hertfordshire, are also using our text on their web site!