Weekend Heller: Modern Dog Loosing Patience, Ruskie Kidski Bookski

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Modern Dog Dogged by Legal DeceitThe ongoing (read more here) Modern Dog Design lawsuit against Jaya Apparel Group, Target and Disney, alleging copyright infringement of the Seattle design firm’s intellectual property seemed to be coming to an end last week:

“Our copyright case was scheduled to go before a jury on Monday, September 23,” Modern Dog’s Robynne Raye wrote in a column for Rockpaperink. “Last Friday, we had a 2:00 pm conference call with the judge to discuss why our case had not settled. As it turns out, 4 minutes before the court called, lawyers on both sides reached an “agreement in principle” on a settlement of $200,000 (profits and attorney fees), and we were willing to allow the defendants to make four payments.” This was the first time, Raye told me on Wednesday, that she’s divulged the sum demanded in the suit.

“I want people to know that we are not being unreasonable,” she added. “We have spent over $42,000 to get to this point, and once you take out the attorney fees we are far below what most people would ever consider. And that does not take into account the hundreds of hours Mike and I have put into fighting. The 200k covers the profits they made, partial attorney fees and none of our expenses. The defense has said to my face that the illustrations are just a bunch of scribbles, and that we are looking for a ‘windfall’ (their words).”

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To settle the case out of court, Modern Dog asked for assurances regarding payment. “Our experience with the T-shirt designer, Jaya Apparel Group, is that they have taken a very aggressive stance in trying to discredit our claim and pay nothing,” Raye wrote. So Target promised to guarantee payment, which “was crucial to our accepting the deal: If Jaya missed a payment, Target would cover it.”

On Monday, Raye learned that Target reneged on their offer. Who is the most deceitful, Raye asks: “Disney for not stepping up at all? Jaya for fighting us every inch of the way, and not admitting what is apparent to even a child? Or Target for stepping up, then stepping back down?”

“I was optimistic on Friday, and now I’m just mad,” she told me. “The attorney at Target should have never agreed to something that he did not have the power to approve (if that’s what happened, we don’t know the details of the reneging). We now believe the defense attorney [representing the defendants] here in Seattle just wanted to get the trial off the docket.”

Modern Dog has 120 days to ask for a new trial. “We have not heard a peep from them since they called on Monday saying that Target would not guarantee the 4th payment.” So this sad saga continues.

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Soviet Kids LitINSIDE THE RAINBOW edited by Julian Rothenstein and Olga Budashevskaya (Redstone Press (£35.00; publication date: October 10, 2013) includes over 250 brilliant examples of illustration and design which are complemented by some wonderful translations of poems and stories as well as texts from the victims, criminals and witnesses to the Russian revolution.

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“In the dark and dangerous world of revolutionary Petrograd,” note the authors, “a group of Russian poets and artists, among the greatest of the century, came together to create a new kind of book for children about to enter a Brave New World. These artists and writers dreamed of endless possibilities in a new world where children and grown-ups alike would be free from the bitterness of ignorance. Everyday life and recognizable figures from the streets became the raw material of imagination. Postman took the place of prince, the ice-cream man replaced the sorcerer, and the striking, vivid, avant-garde art of Suprematists and Futurists lept onto the page. For a time, when children’s publications still escaped the scourge of state censorship, their books became a last haven for learning, poetic irony, burlesque and laughter.”

Additional ResourcePick up the newest issue of Print, The Design and Storytelling Issue, to engage in current ideas and issues surrounding the art of telling a story.