A US start-up accused of intellectual property infringement says it was kicked off Kickstarter just 10 hours before its campaign was due to end, highlighting the potential risks of crowdfunding.
Vinted Goods, based in Los Angeles, is a bag and leather goods company, which recently launched a campaign on US-based crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.
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In a letter addressed to its fans, which it posted online, the start-up said its project was removed from Kickstarter just 10 hours before the funding process was due to end.
In the letter, Vinted Goods said the move comes after a former mentor accused the company of IP infringement.
“A year ago, two apparel designers of Vinted Goods… took an unpaid internship at a bag company with enthusiasm,” it wrote.
“The owner, their mentor, is a passionate individual who had built a company from the ground up. He inspired our two members to do the same.”
“The friendship grew as the two designers provided their design expertise and, at the same time, receiving education from the mentor. At the end of their internship, the mentor gave them words of blessing for future success.”
After several months of exploration, Vinted Goods formed in January with the aim of making “beautiful, affordable bags and leather goods”, and decided to use Kickstarter to raise funds.
“Well into our Kickstarter funding process, we were blown away at the response of the community and the success of Vinted Goods,” it said.
“Then we received a letter from a law firm; a cease and desist letter from the mentor with threats to sue… It consisted [of] accusations of infringement from the mentor.”
“He laid claims to a number of our designs such as our website utilising a top navigation bar, our photo of the designer operating a sewing machine, etc.”
After consulting with a number of IP lawyers, Vinted Goods replied to the letter, requesting further clarification from their former mentor.
“Then we waited. Upon the final hours of our project’s timeline, the mentor sent a letter to Kickstarter,” it wrote.
“Kickstarter complied immediately and shut down the project, forwarding us the mentors’ claims.
“Unfortunately, it’s not within their policy to notify our fans with an explanation and did not give us the opportunity to do so either.”
“A ‘counter notification’ requested by Kickstarter has been sent, in order to repost the project.”
“If approved, it will be posted again within the next 10 days (by 9/27/12), according to Kickstarter.com.”
In the meantime, there is no trace of the Vinted Goods project on the Kickstarter website. However, Kickstarter has made two updates to its policies, detailed in a blog post.
“We’re introducing a number of changes to reinforce that Kickstarter isn’t a store – it’s a new way for creators and audiences to work together to make things,” it said.
Kickstarter has added a new section to the project page called ‘Risks and Challenges’. All project creators are now required to answer the following question when creating their project:
“What are the risks and challenges this project faces, and what qualifies you to overcome them?”
“We added the ‘Risks and Challenges’ section to reinforce that creators’ projects are in development,” Kickstarter said.
“Before backing a project, people can judge both the creator’s ability to complete their project as promised, and whether they feel the creator is being open and honest about the risks and challenges they face.”
“The new section will appear below the project description of projects.”