They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But when does it turn into a theft of creativity?

Making the news yesterday was an article on 11 Furniture, a Kunming, China-based retail store that uncannily resembles the look, feel and essentially the identity, of an IKEA store. According to the Reuters article, the Chinese showroom even replicates IKEA's blue and yellow color scheme, signage and the room displays.

This is not the first time Kunming has made the news. Approximately one month ago the city drew  international attention after it was revealed that the city was home to a number of fake Apple retail stores that mimicked many of the retail chain's key design elements.

The presence of these stores merely serves to highlight the new wave of "identity theft" going on across the world. Unfortunately, there seems to be little recourse for the "brand" company in these cases.

In my mind, brand recognition is an intellectual property and the violation of it is just as important, or perhaps even more important, as if another company committed trademark infringement. There is a difference between being influenced by a creative idea, and merely copying it.

What do you think?

Read more of Karen's blogs.

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