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The shocking story of how the Top Left Design website got ripped off - and what we did about it.

Is plagiarism really the sincerest form of flattery? We at TLD didn’t really feel that way when a loving fan of ours called Ashwin filled out the form on our website and said “these guys are using your website template without your permission. Please see”

We had a look and sure enough – complete rip off!!

Except that they have done a really poor job of placing their logo and have put badly written text in. Many of the pages look incomplete, and they have icons and buttons linking back to our site anyway!

See below screenshot.

Copied Site

What we did about it

We took screenshots

Always good to get proof – and as our friend Tamsin Fox Davies said “It’s all material”!

I told Twitter

Getting this emotion into 140 characters can be tricky but I managed.

Copied site - my tweet

I got lots of great support – and retweeted those who made comments

What was amazing was the amount of retweets and supportive tweets I got! People pointed out how badly they had done the copy.

I made a Storify page and put in all the tweets

Storify is a great tool to help tell a story of what people have been saying about specific topics on Social Media.
Have a look here.

Tamlyn sent what we feel is a suitably angry email to the evil culprits

Dear Khi Web,
I’m from a company called Top Left Design, although I’m sure you have heard of us before.
I am also sure you have some idea as to why we are sending you this email. It has recently come to our attention that you in fact have a website online that is almost an exact replica of ours, including a fair bit of our site copy.
We spent a lot of time creating a unique design and do not appreciate people copying our hard work. If you do require a website design from us we offer this as a chargeable service, not a free-for-all whereby you directly rip off our own company website.
This is considered plagiarism. Please take this site down with immediate effect and change the design and copy so that it reflects your own company and not us. We will be checking the site within 24 hours to ensure you have done so, and if find you have not complied we will be seeking ways of protecting our intellectual property.
We have taken screenshots of your site to prove what you have done.
Many thanks,

They still haven’t responded.

Kevin also wrote to their hosting company with the following

Hi there,
We are a web design company based in Soho, London, United-Kingdom, and we have recently found out that a company based in Mumbai has duplicated our entire website to use for their own business purpose without any authorisation from us. This is blatant plagiarism.
Here is the website in question: and here is our website which is the original one:
We have emailed and asked them to take the website down as they can’t use our designs, but we have had no reply from them regarding this.
You seem to be the company which host the website, and we were wondering if you could do something on your end to help us? I’m sure you will agree that this is not legal and hopefully you will be able to warn the company in question and if they do not comply, take the website down as what they have done is completely illegal practice.
It would be great if you could have a look at this and let us know if you would be able to help us.
Many thanks,

We haven’t received a response yet, so we will be getting onto the hosting company soon! Hopefully they are quick to remove the site!

They still haven’t taken it down – but I am blogging about it meanwhile

And we want to say thank you for all you TLD fans for your support – We will keep you posted and hopefully get that copycat site taken down for good – soon!

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  1. Mark Tassell

    This happened to me about 3 years ago when a company in India completely cloned a website of mine and replaced every reference to London with India. (not the site that you guys are doing for us!).
    My site was called London PO Box and they were called Deli PO Box. The design, wording and everything was identical, except all links changed to their site. I only came across it when I Googled a keyword for my site and saw that they were ranking no 2 on page 1, as they failed to change all the Meta data (idiots!) which is where I usually am for that keyword. I clicked on it and couldn’t believe what I saw. I telephoned the company and, much to my surprise, got through to someone. I impersonated to be from my company’s Legal Department and it certainly scared them. It was down within 4 or 5 hours!.

  2. Karen Haller

    KHI Web Solutions isn’t a Total IT solutions, it’s a total rip off of your website. Good luck getting it removed #plagiarism

  3. Lewis

    Whoa, that’s ridiculous. I couldn’t imagine if someone completely copied my site and only changed the logo, I’d be angry!

  4. Keren

    Thanks for your support everyone! An update: We just got an email sent through by a supporter of ours – and I want to share it here, word for word – he sent this to KHI Web and a whole bunch of the clients they have listed on their site = and copied us in:
    Here is his message:
    KHI web, before you delete this message – I have CC’d some of your clients* and cover company so next time you have a meeting you can explain why you rip off other designs and sell them to your clients to rip them off? Bala as an artist understands originality, Mahakal Advertising should understand the importance of truth, Dr. Sejal Desai will understand honesty, and maybe Method Of Learning can teach you?
    The website design KHI are using is not designed by KHI it’s copied without permission from – have a look everybody!
    N.B. This email was not sent by Top Left Design but I as a witness to this plight and blight.
    Apologies for sticking my boot in, Keren but I can’t stand this blatant ripping off, it’s downright evil and destructive to the cherished industry of design around the globe.
    Design with a conscience

  5. tina

    Good on you Keren. Behaviour like this needs to be made public and shamed. Much more damage than just taking legal action. Keep tweeting and using Social Media.
    In fact, why don’t you get in tiuch with local paper and submit article?
    Good Luck,
    Tina x

  6. George Emsden

    Thought of getting in touch with the Beeb about this?
    Eddie Nestor Drivetime might be interested?? or R4?

  7. DavidK

    Hi Keren,
    I had similar experiences when not one but TWO different homecare companies stole the copy I’d written for another provider. One of them has taken down the word-for-word copy and spun it. The situation unfortunately is made more complicated because the copy is now owned by my client, of course. Very aggravating nonetheless.
    I wrote a blog post about it – more an amusing take on why people do this than a guide to sorting it out!

  8. George

    This is shocking – I bet even this blog appears on their site!

  9. Mark Ballantyne

    THIS is why design does not cost £5… (or even£99)
    Remember that, folks – the next time you decide to “crowdsource” your logo / branding / website design. You’re probably just paying talentless rip-off artists as seen above!

  10. Abi

    Hi Keren,
    Great article, but horrible situation. We had something similiar with EX client who, even after polite requests, kept unpaid for photos on her website. I also went to her hosting company with an emotional letter. Nothing was done until I sent them a letter based on this DMCA template (link below). My goodness, site was taken down immediately and stayed down for a week while they got other photos sorted!
    This particular client only contacted me a couple of weeks later to ask if I could quote for another photo session for her – MADNESS!!
    You’ve probably done this already, but couldn’t bear to sit back and not pass on lessons learnt.
    Hope it helps and gets a response. It worked for me.

    • Keren

      Thanks Abi – I really appreciate this advice – have tried this tactic and we will now wait and see!
      Hope it works for us like it did for you!

  11. Jay

    OMG! Cant believe the tumbler and RSS feed links still point to your site. Not only are they rip offs, they are lazy too. Seriously feel like tracking down EVERY SINGLE one of their clients and pointing out what kind of dishonest, immoral business they are associating themselves with. Hope the company gets trashed to the ground, they dont deserve to be in business!

    • Keren

      Thanks so much for letting me know Steve! So glad they finally took it down! Yay! We will celebrate this weekend!

  12. Tom O'Neill

    Many websites are created from templetes provided by web hosting companies and can appear almost exactly like others, except with different photos, text and other modifications that are inserted during creation.
    This may be what occured here. If so, would that be considered a rip-off?

    • Keren

      Thanks for this comment Tom – our site wasn’t based on a template it’s a completely unique design. But the good news is that the copy site got taken down!

  13. Keren

    If anyone wants the text for the DMCA takedown notice email we sent, or the email we wrote to Google that I think was the thing that got them taken down, just get in touch and ask, we are happy to help others who find themselves in the same situation (as people have helped us)

  14. Liz Gall

    I’m glad you got rid of them in the end, as you know I had exactly the same happen last year. I know people pinch ideas, and pieces of copy regularly but I still can’t believe someone has the cheek to copy and paste an entire site – it makes me so angry. How dare they steel your owls!!

  15. Cheryl Laidlaw

    OMG sorry but I didn’t realise how much they ripped it off!!!
    Some people have no shame! Good for you guys!

  16. Abi

    Hurrah! A great victory.