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How Much Inspiration Is Too Much Inspiration For GMK?


Hi Andy. I know you're a busy man heading GMK E.D., Inc. so there's a huge possibility you just haven't gotten around to it or even aware of my inquiry in Top Clack's Discord (as that's the only one we share). To save you the inconvenience of such I'll ask it here:

With GMK more recently cracking down in regards to keysets and IP, I was curious of the line that one can toe with their inspiration.

Most prominently, GMK BLINK got the ball rolling and put the spotlight on IP after a vendor's advertising and the seemingly problematic novelty designs.

A few months later we had GMK White Wolf that wasn't able to secure permission with the original novelty designs [copied]. After revising the novelty designs [now inspired] to avoid permissory issues, White Wolf still resulted in GMK prohibiting it from production.

We even saw you actually step in and comment on GMK Arch's IC once Ram said he received explicit permission from Arch Linux to use their official logo instead of his own original logo [inspired].

I was wondering if you inquired with Smokey or if you think it would even be warranted in the case of GMK Gateway and Valve's Portal series that's currently in GB.

Big ups to notG10 for affirming my original idea of posting on here as well as potentially opening it up to more communal discussion.

It's like the reincarnation of 'Who owns a colorway?'


--- Quote from: ilikerustoo on Fri, 05 February 2021, 18:14:02 ---It's like the reincarnation of 'Who owns a colorway?'

--- End quote ---
I'm sorry, but I don't believe in reincarnation.

This is a hard question.

First, the community is ever changing and is not what it was in 2014-2017ish. The community as a whole maybe had 1-2 sets running per month across all manufacturers (BSP, SP, GMK, etc) - with many of those sets just crossing MOQ.

Now, years later with hundreds of different designs having been produced, with many more popping up via IC or GB on a weekly basis, this is a hard line to judge. Remember, GMK has always ensured that the IP of a set will be protected with us. This is something that vendors have requested from the very beginning, and we were inclined to agree. Sure, we could reminisce on the days when all (~ten) of the designers and vendors knew each other and would hash out any issues amongst themselves on the forums, but that simply isn't a viable approach anymore. Not only has the community grown so large, which is amazing, it has also fractured so many times over with chats and new forums that there is no longer a quick way to check what is happening "in the community." But with the changing times, our approach to knowing how to protect IP should also change. Because of how large it has gotten I have no doubts that similar sets that are accidently very similar will appear around the same time. By "accidently" I simply mean that I am placing no fault on either party in this scenario. So looking ahead how do we protect IP - and the freedom of design that the community desires?

We do believe protecting IP is important. Many of our vendors are small business that have taken it upon themselves to take running community storefronts their full time job. We want to respect the vendors and the hard work they do by not allowing sets that are too similar - though we want the vendors working together to decide what is and isn't too similar. I'd like to believe that if a vendor had a flagship set that another vendor was very close to copying that they would both have enough respect for each other to find a solution that works for them both. If we have to help make these discussions happen, we will do as much.

This is the perfect time for us to internally come up with a solution as we are not accepting new vendors at the moment (to catch up on the backlog the pandemic caused) and will be coming up with new vendor requirements that all of our vendors must adhere to moving forward. Much of this is simply changes on our end such as how we onboard clients, how issues with caps are reported, etc. Just policy changes to affect efficiency and ensure everyone is on the same page. But within these changes we are also looking at ways to put the power back in the hands of the vendors - as we (GMK) really don't want to get involved in making the final decision unless we really have to, and would rather let the community and vendors decide. Once I have a completed document I'll post in the GMK Vendor Forum.

Again, this is a tough topic. One that will probably take some time to find the right balance. But we are aware of how complex it is, and we are aware of the different sides of the argument and are working very hard to find a good balance.


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