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Beijing Design Week confronts copying in China with giant rubber duck

Beijing Design Week confronts copying in China with giant rubber duck

News: the organisers of Beijing Design Week plan to emphasise problems with copyright in China by exhibiting an original version of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's giant Rubber Duck, which was duplicated around the country when it recently appeared in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour.

At a press conference announcing that Florentijn Hofman's ten-metre-high inflatable duck will appear at Beijing Design Week 2013, the event's organising committee highlighted the proliferation of unsolicited copies that emerged in several Chinese cities including Tianjin and Wuhan last month, as well as unauthorised T-shirts and merchandise.

"We want to use the Rubber Duck case to drive an awareness programme raising the sensibility towards intellectual property rights around China," said Wang Jun, a senior consultant to Beijing Design Week's IP Protection Office.

Beijing Design Week will instead work with Hofman to produce and license official associated products and promises to take legal action against lookalikes.

"The Rubber Duck knows no frontiers, it doesn't discriminate people and doesn't have a political connotation," says a statement on Hofman's website.

A 16.5 metre tall version of the sculpture was shown in Hong Kong from 2 May until 9 June, attracting a reported 8,000,000 people to the area.

Hofman's duck has appeared in over a dozen cities since it was first exhibited in 2007, including Sao Paulo, Sydney and Amsterdam. Its installation at Beijing Design Week, which takes place from 26 September to 3 October, will be its second in China.

Copying in design is a hot topic at the moment, with Thomas Heatherwick recently being accused of copying the design for the Olympic cauldron from a New York agency, which has since said it never accused Heatherwick of plagiarism.

This issue is particularly prevalent in China, where a Zaha Hadid development in Beijing has been pirated by a Chinese developer in Chongqing. Earlier this year, Dutch design collective Droog made a series of products copied from traditional Chinese objects.

See all our stories about copying in design »

Top image is by YY Yeung.