University Web Developers

University Web Developers

It has recently come to my attention that someone has outright stolen our website design.

Our site: http://www.denverseminary.edu/
Stolen site: http://www.vivianarodriguez-lab.com/index.html

Any suggestions on how to deal with this? I am working on having one of our Spanish-speaking professors translate an email message that I can send to them, but I would appreciate any other advice or thoughts that the community has on how to deal with it.

An Update (posted April 1, 2009)

Thanks to everyone for your advice! By way of update, our finance department has decided not to pursue legal action, and we are chalking it up to a compliment to our site. :-)

Just this week I received an email from a third party who had corresponded with the other website owner, and she expressed her deep concern over the matter. She had no idea the website design had been stolen. And apparently DataFizz, the "design" company she hired has done this before.

Thanks again for your input!

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Personally, I think I would be calling the local media and leveraging all the free publicity I could - "Local seminary has award-winning web design stolen by Argentinian bandits. News at 11:00."
Why worry? Give yourself a pat on the back for having a website worth stealing. =D

Seriously gorgeous website. Even after stealing your design your site looks far better.
Don't waste your time. Consider this the ultimate form of flattery.
I'll second that. At most, I'd send them an email thanking them for their admiration, but requesting that they cease and desist.

Sending it to legal is just going to cost your school thousands. The only people who win will be (as always) the lawyers.
Thanks for the compliments! These are good suggestions...and not worrying about it is where I think I am settling. I have a VP, on the other hand, who is wanting action, so at the very least I wanted to explore options.

(I especially got a kick out of Stephen's suggestion -- partly because I have had calls from two reporters today on a completely unrelated "story.")
Give it to your legal department as a copyright violation and forget about it. There's not really anything "you" can do about it. You can't copyright a design concept obviously, though if they copied the code for it, that's another issue, but that'd be for legal to handle, hence just give it to them to worry about. Ultimately there's nothing you can do to stop this kind of stuff, except out them, point fingers, and laugh.
I second this. Absolutely send it to your general counsel and let them handle it.
You might want to let the website owners know about it though - they probably have no idea. At the bottom of the page is a link: "Design (dF!)" to a web design company called dataFizz. Assuming they paid for that work, they have a bone to pick with dataFizz.
They may be victims as well. I think in many of these cases they hire someone to do a web site and unknown to them the hired help copies someone else site and passes it off as there own work. I agree with the other posters that it is flattering to be copied, but I think it is also a little insulting to have your school's hard work stolen. At bare minimum I'd dig a little deeper by sending an email informing them of the problem and see what comes back.
Stewart has a really good point. They may not have a clue.

In late 2007 we found another university that had copied our secondary page design and just changed the colors. For a few minutes we wondered whether it wasn't just coincidence (the design wasn't anything brilliantly creative), but then we realized they were still hotlinking to our background images! So, we changed our background images to... just kidding. We had many good laughs about what we could change them to, but ultimately we sent them a nice note saying we were flattered, but please don't hotlink. We had just redesigned our site anyway, so it was no big deal for us.
This appears to be another of those cases. Though this particular group is not hotlinking to Denver Seminary, there are hidden elements of the page they didn't even bother to change. There is level 1 header (h1) and a level 3 header (h3) on the front page that both mention Denver Seminary. They're hidden by CSS, but they're still in the source code and still visible if you disable CSS.

Honestly, I don't think there is an awful lot you can do about this. Still, as was mentioned before, it might be a good idea to at least mention it to legal and ask them if it's acceptable to send a notification to the group using your design.
Wow, they didn't make any effort to change the design at all.

I agree with the general sentiment of folks. They definitely have not executed the design quite as well as you have. I might give your legal department a heads up, in case they feel it's necessary to pursue some sort of action.

They are in a completely unrelated industry so I don't think they are trying to piggy-back on the Denver Seminary brand and steal confused "customers" away from you. If it were another seminary, I'd probably react differently.

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