So, as I reported recently on my blog, I discovered recently that a maze that appeared on the back of packages of Kraft SpongeBob Macaroni & Cheese was based on one of my designs. When I notified @kraftfoods of this, via twitter, they put me in touch with Design Partners, an agency in Racine Wisconsin that was responsible for the packaging design. It is perhaps worth pointing out that Kraft (like most companies that outsource their design work) is indemnified against this kind of thing – any legal repercussions would fall on the agency responsible, not on Kraft.
Susan, the HR director at the agency contacted me with a very nice letter, apologizing sincerely for the mistake. She asked me how I would like to “resolve the matter”. I asked the agency to make cash donations to two food banks – $2,000 to their local food bank, the Racine County Food Bank, and $2,000 to my local food bank, the Los Angeles Food Bank. They were very happy to do so, and the donations were made Thursday morning.
I am personally very pleased with how this turned out. I’m aware that some of you (including one or two eager attorneys) were hoping I would try to get a substantially larger settlement. In my mind, this would not have been just. It would have been a reverse form of theft, taking advantage of one person’s mistake for my personal gain. While it’s tempting to blame the “big corporation” for this kind of thing, ultimately these kinds of mistakes are made by people who are prone to the same kinds of errors that you and I make every day. Also, my house is too cluttered with broken pencil sharpeners and cat toys, and I don’t know where I would fit a lifetime supply of mac & cheese.
So, I hope you like the way I resolved this. I feel I’ve turned lemons into actual lemonade. Or spilt milk into unspilt milk? I dunno, you figure it out.
If you are in the US, and you’d like to learn more about your local food bank, I suggest visiting the following directory:
A big thank you to Josh Masur for advice and encouragement.