You’ve probably seen this image before. Jonathan Mak first published it on his Tumblr site on the 26th August 2011. When Steve Jobs passed on over a month later the design went viral, which in itself is not overly surprising given the reblogging nature of Tumblr. The popularity of the image goes deeper than the ease of the reblog button though, as the image puts Jobs as the missing piece from Apple. A poignant reminder of what he did for Apple and what he achieved with them. However, there have now arisen claims that the idea was copied. Chris Thornely, who goes by the alias RAID71, posted a similar design earlier in the year. There are key differences between the two in terms of dimensions and proportions, as you can see below.
It’s difficult in this modern age of reblogging and retweeting to know where an idea came from, especially when people reblog or retweet without crediting the source. But to know whether Mak came up with the idea independently is going to be nearly impossible. There is precedent though with Darwin being forced into early publication, so it’s not inconceivable that two people on the planet came up with the same idea. Mak even says on his Tumblr when posting that:
“Posting designs like this one makes me paranoid, because I can’t shake the feeling that it’s not original. I enjoyed the process regardless, but please let me know if somebody else beat me to the idea!”
It’s always complicated coming up with an idea as you have to tread carefully with what already exists. People, and businesses, can be very touchy when they feel that their intellectual property is being infringed. Notably Apple have cracked down on perceived infringements, and have not been immune to accusations against them. The most famous of these being from Apple Records, supposedly the company that Jobs named Apple after. The main lesson to be learnt here is that no-one is looking out for you. If you want to retain the rights to your work you need to take the appropriate steps, and it might be that one of those steps is not publishing it onto the internet.