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AGILECOpy: The ultimate home page rip-off

23 Feb 2005 by Jason Fried

Two customers of ours just asked us if we’re affliated with a company called “Agileco.” Why I said? Look they said… Check out the Basecamp home page. Then check out this screenshot of Agileco’s home page.

I contacted a fellow at Agile named Tony. Tony assured me that he would investigate. Then he came back with these changes which he felt were sufficient to make his site “original.” Look closely… The “Customer quotes” are now blue instead of green and are now below the headline instead of below the subhead. And the bullets in the right column aren’t our checkmarks anymore. And their “Try Free!” box is now below the first set of bulletpoints instead of above it. And they’re renamed the headings on those bulletpoints because the originals were the same as ours.

And now they think it’s clearly different, clearly theirs. That is clearly ridiculous. There’s a difference between influence and theft, and to me it’s clear which side they come down on. We’ve all learned from one another. We’ve all borrowed a thing or two. We’ve all been influenced, and actively influence. But there’s no excuse for a commercial enterprise copying another commercial enterprise’s home page concept/style/spirit like this. What do you think?

UPDATE: The folks at Agileco quickly modified their home page after this post went up. We appreciate their attention to this matter.

52 comments so far (Post a Comment)

23 Feb 2005 | Dan said...

Dude, that's fuckin' bullshit! You should threaten them with litigation. I haven't seen a ripoff that blatant since those buymusic.com ads that reminded us of a certain white music player...

23 Feb 2005 | Nick said...

Plus their app design is a rip off of Windows Explorer in XP. Would it kill people to invest in some design and be original? Idiots.

23 Feb 2005 | Adam Codega said...

We all talk about straight forward, legible, simple designs. It's hard for all of us to do this without similarities being drawn between works. I'm not choosing either side on this issue, all I'm doing is bring up this point.

23 Feb 2005 | daveg said...

I see they've been doing further tweaking in the last 15 mins or so.

23 Feb 2005 | JF said...

We all talk about straight forward, legible, simple designs. It's hard for all of us to do this without similarities being drawn between works. I'm not choosing either side on this issue, all I'm doing is bring up this point.

Are you suggesting the blatant similarities are coincidental because this is the only way to design a web page? That's an insult to creativity and ingenuity.

23 Feb 2005 | Michael said...

Wow.

Aren't you happy that people loves you so much?

You just should send them a bill for the design work... Hehehe...

Take it as flattery when people copy you. Suing is probably not a interesting option but this is clearly ridiculous for these IP thiefs to use your design at their profits. They deserve that any potential customer know them for what they really are: IP robbery company that try to sell a bad billing application with ideas from others.

Google bombing someone? ;)

23 Feb 2005 | Justin Perkins said...

I love it when people copy CSS-based layouts and convert them to crappy table-based layouts. The lack of skill/creativity is increased tenfold.

23 Feb 2005 | Dan said...

It's hard for all of us to do this without similarities being drawn between works.

That's definitely true. I know for a fact that I've kindly swiped ideas from other sites.

But when you have a situation where your customers think you are affiliated with another company because they virtually cloned the look of your website, that's a big problem. Any casual observer would notice the overwhelming similarity between the two websites. I mean, this is blatant. And the worst part about it is that they know what's going on and don't seem to care that much.

Seriously, I would threaten them with an infringement lawsuit. The threat of such action should have weasels like Agileco pissing in their pants and changing their website.

23 Feb 2005 | mmilan said...

Seems their front page has changed yet again ;)

23 Feb 2005 | Dan said...

I love it when people copy CSS-based layouts and convert them to crappy table-based layouts. The lack of skill/creativity is increased tenfold.

LOL!!! What a bunch of dorks.

23 Feb 2005 | Tomas said...

There are no two ways about it, it's clearly a case of piece-by-piece cloning. Even if it was "just" piece-by-piece imitation, it would still be over the line, but this is even worse than that.

23 Feb 2005 | SH said...

I love the irony of their About page.

"Our work is truly inspired by..." 37s?

23 Feb 2005 | Dave said...

While it's pretty blatant, I'm sure this could be handled between two companies in a better manner than posting an ofending company's email address inviting rants.

Yes people will find an email adress anyway but let's keep the vigilante justice for rips to personal sites. You could be screwing yourself.

23 Feb 2005 | JF said...

While it's pretty blatant, I'm sure this could be handled between two companies in a better manner than posting an ofending company's email address inviting rants.

Oh, I tried. Sent 2 emails. Had some back and forth discussion. They didn't think there was anything wrong. The second screenshot shows their volley.

This post got them to change. I wish I didn't have to go this far, but this is what forced the change.

23 Feb 2005 | cjs. said...

No doubt, that has got to be the most blatant rip I've ever seen. And to use tables, that's just an insult.

If I rip off the 37s front page will I get this kind of free publicity?

23 Feb 2005 | J Lane said...

That's funny. A friend of mine works for a print company. A "competitor" opened shop, copied their web site word for word, and changed all of the prices to be $0.10 cheaper....

The really funny part is that they tried using this "original" company to actually produce the prints -- they just wanted to steal all of the design work.

23 Feb 2005 | Rob. H said...

They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery. But this is ridiculous!
-R

23 Feb 2005 | Dave said...

Jason, that's understandable.

I can see that having discussed this with them at length without getting any satisfactory results would lead you to take it to the street. I'm just always concerned about the thin, wavy line between personal and commercial actions in this industry.

23 Feb 2005 | Melanie said...

Out of curiosity, I ran your page through Copyscape.com to see if you'd been plagiarized, as well. Um, what's up with this site? Design AND text rip-off?

23 Feb 2005 | Nic said...

Throw a cease and desist order at them for copyright infringement. Twats

23 Feb 2005 | seth said...

Hey you guys do some sick marketing and write awesome copy over here...It's a wonder more people haven't ripped you off.

23 Feb 2005 | Jake said...

ROFL - I knew people liked you, but this crazy!

23 Feb 2005 | Randy said...

Salesappliance.com

Holy crap! Another one!!

23 Feb 2005 | Matthew Oliphant said...

I had no idea that our Mr. Rundle was so into salesappliance.com. He even volunteered to be used as an example!

Wow. Does Business Logs get a kick back from that, Mike?

23 Feb 2005 | Dan said...

Wow, salesappliance.com isn't even trying to disguise it... ugh, it's sickening how ruthless people can be.

23 Feb 2005 | Dan said...

Very not cool. To those who say this is flattery... I say bull crap!

23 Feb 2005 | Randy said...

sales@salesappliance.com - tell them what you think.

23 Feb 2005 | Nathan said...

I do think that you should send them the bill. It would definitely let them know how you feel about it.

23 Feb 2005 | Devin said...

So is your performance bike design with tabs is a rip off of Amazon? These guys will fade away because they have no talent.

23 Feb 2005 | Jeff said...

I'd just send a DMCA notification to their web hosting provider. That'd probably clear it up pretty quickly, and get them "on the record" with their provider as a copyright violator.

23 Feb 2005 | Ella said...

I wonder if their partners know about this :-)

23 Feb 2005 | Tobin said...

IMHO, I reckon this kind of copying is also a big compliment! These people obviously realise that you're onto a great thing, and they want to copy your ideas verbatum for thier own benefit.

However, I agree that it's also theft. They must know this themselves since they have changed their site loads to make the theft less obvious. I don't think their site is as effective now that they have made thier own changes though, and it's clear they don't really understand what they're doing. IMHO, they've bastardised your UI conventions and as a result their site makes less "sense". Also, they're app looks a bit naff too! With any luck they won't benefit from ripping you off at all!

I'd take pleasure in the fact that you have an underlying knowledge that allows you to produce something fresh and usable. This kind of competition will always be well behind you. Lol, if they had any sense they should pay you some money to help them make their site and app more effective.

Just my two pennies worth! Oh, whilst I'm here I'll admit that I've been greatly "inspired" by BaseCamp and TaDaList. I don't duplicate the look and feel, but I have tried to work out the reasoning behind the layout and apply this in my own work. I don't know if you guys have any "rules of thumb" to determine what goes where in your UI's, but I think I may have managed to find some general trends!

23 Feb 2005 | Mike said...

Tobin - You'd reckon that this copying is a compliment but you'd be terribly wrong. It's an insult to the hard work Jason and company put into their brand which is represented by their user interface stylings, and people need to stop thinking this is a joking matter.

23 Feb 2005 | Scott Cropper said...

Google has a cached copy of the Agileco site before they changed it. We should just take over their forums to let their customers know where they came up with such a nice site.

This also brings up the thought of how it would be nice if Google indexed stylesheets so you could do a search to find similar designs. In this case it would have been difficult to track them down using a search because they converted everything to tables. However, in most cases I'd say sites get copied with few changes to the style sheet. If you mixed in an odd comment or two in your stylesheet with the regular code you could easily check and see if its been used elsewhere.

23 Feb 2005 | JF said...

Stealing is never flattering, it's insulting. It's saying that someone's hard work isn't worth anything. What's more insulting than that?

23 Feb 2005 | duff said...

Now this is really insulting, and illegal. They stole your testimonials!

23 Feb 2005 | Scott Cropper said...

How about the fact they left the name 37signals on the contact page but state to ask for "Ian Purton" when you call.

24 Feb 2005 | Dave said...

Dude... your front page copy has been ripped off by tons of places - try running it through Copyscape. Here are some examples. Each of these stole over 200 words from your front page. I guess that's the price of being popular...

24 Feb 2005 | Stephen Hay said...

Many designers have had to deal with plagiarists. Jason's right, it is insulting. The funny thing is, as Scott points out, most of these design thieves show the same laziness in their copying as in their (lack of) creativity.

Anyone remember Pirated Sites or know if it's still live?

24 Feb 2005 | seth said...

Wow, it seems that I have an impostor as well... :/

24 Feb 2005 | matthew said...

what are you talking about?? this is a mashup, baby! information should be free!!!

24 Feb 2005 | Teake said...

Yeah, that is brutally obvious. It is one thing when someone is influenced by your design and will incorporate some aspects, but this is just insanity. Worse, now that you pointed it out they are getting more traffic to their site and people are learning about their service. Pretty weak.

I've been designing sites forever and this is just the ugly truth. Like the kid that partied all night before a test and then cheated by copying off the smart kid sitting next to them.

KARMA biatch. What comes around goes around.

24 Feb 2005 | Jake said...

Worse, now that you pointed it out they are getting more traffic to their site and people are learning about their service.

Ahh, but they are not just learning about their service, they are also learning about their (lack of) creativity and how bad they really are.

24 Feb 2005 | Julian Scarfe said...

yes, as they used to say,
"Any publicity is good publicity!"
no way to bring this stuff up w/o giving some free advertising...

24 Feb 2005 | Peter said...

i wonder who they stole their new design from...

24 Feb 2005 | MJ said...

I doesn't make it right, but I always try to see a design rip-off a a hidden compliment. Yes, I know I'm very optimistic.
Ripping of entire pieces of text is another thing! Sad, very sad...

24 Feb 2005 | Scott Stowell said...

Wow.

I had never heard of copyscape.com before, but in five minutes I found that the copy on our site was ripped off by this place in Toronto and these people right here in New York!

We just sent them both e-mails about it. Updates to come.

24 Feb 2005 | Scott Stowell said...

Uh oh. I can't get that second link to work. It's http://www.simondoes.com in New York that ripped us off.

Could somebody at SvN fix that link and delete this comment? Sorry about that.

24 Feb 2005 | Don Schenck said...

You see, that's the beauty of my situation, i.e. I have no design skills. No chance of my so-called "designs" being copied.

Ignorance is, it turns out, bliss.

24 Feb 2005 | Larry Burningham said...

So did you all design Campaign Monitor? Because if not that is a much more blatant rip off. Reminds me when people used to rip the Studio Archetype site (Clement Mok's old co.) They used to post the offenders screens and call it flattery.

We had a guy who used to work for us and now all of his sites look exactly like ones we have done in the past. The evil side of CSS. But you know what, we have evolved and he keeps spinning the wheels.

Jason you guys rock and these guys probably will continue to follow instead of lead.

Chant "Serenity Now" 37 times and then let out one "Hoochi Mama!" and move on.

26 Feb 2005 | Fred said...

Who cares?

28 Feb 2005 | Bill Bradford said...

Am I the only person who pulls up 37signals.com or SvN and just sits and goes "ooh" at the (IMHO) absolutely PERFECT minimalist-clean design?

When I win the lottery, one of the calls is going to be to you guys for a redesign of sunhelp.org. :)

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