Brand Plagiarism: It’s flattering, but stop it.

Recently, I ran across this web page, and was completely flabbergasted by the time I had finished the opening paragraphs:

“Dr. Rob Davies, or Doctor Lips as he is known by, first got the name from one or two patients who called him it in jest. After a while more and more people were calling the clinic and asking for Doctor Lips. The first time caused a bit of confusion amongst our staff and it was dismissed as a prank call. It was only when the person called back pleading to be seen by Doctor Lips sounding genuine, that the penny finally dropped. The name has now well and truly stuck.

We’re still unsure if everybody is aware IT IS ONLY A NICKNAME (sic)”

Dr. Davies, with the original "Dr. Lips", Dr. Robert GordonIt wasn’t the poor grammar which stunned me; it was the fact that the purveyor in question had completely directly appropriated a brand concept I had spent two years creating, and there wasn’t any mention of the company I had created it for. You see, Dr. Davies was trained in lip and perioral augmentation procedures by a certain Dr. Robert Gordon, not coincidentally known as, you guessed it, Dr. Lips.

Notice how all the top Google results for Dr. Lips are for Dr. Robert Gordon? There’s a reason for that. For two years, as their Director of Communications, I built a brand presence for Dr. Gordon online under that moniker. He’d written a textbook on cosmetic augmentation of lips, and was revolutionizing dentistry by introducing entirely new paradigms of treatment. Hell, he’d earned it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that using “Dr. Lips” for cosmetic procedure branding was the most innovative idea in the world, and if Dr. Davies had come up with this concept completely on his own, I probably wouldn’t have thought too much about it. What really shocked me here was the unmitigated gall of stealing our (copyrighted) branding concept when we were offering that branding to him as part of a licensing agreement, an option he chose not to purchase, but stole anyways.

Given the vagaries of intellectual property rights between US and UK law, I’m fairly certain nothing legal will come of it, but I have to say, it made me mad. I’m glad he was impressed with the success of my branding work, but if you’re going to steal a marketing concept and hide behind an ocean to not pay for it, the very least you could do is give me a back link. Just sayin’.