This week, a blog network/portal site debuted with the name of Open Source Media. The site, an alliance of blogs and personalities self-described as conservative, chose a fairly slick looking logo: a dark cyan spiral paint stripe emanating from the majuscule O in the OSM, with the rest of the acronym punching through the spiral, the S seeming to be centered on it. The expansion of the acronym, "Open Source Media", lay below the M and aligning with its left stem stroke, was a dialed-back gray so as to inform the viewer of what OSM was supposed to stand for but not to distract from the trigram; it seemed apparent that from this display (as well as the website address – www.osm.org) that the OSM mark was to be the core identity.
It looked pretty slick, and in my opinion it's not a bad logo at all. It's got good eyeflow, divides and encloses the space interestingly, and delivers information.
And it immediately showed the symptoms of a raging case of Quark disease.
DTP maker Quark, if you'll recall, recently freshened up its image. Problem: it's redesign looked a heck of a lot like a number of already-existing identities (for back story see Gene Gable's commentary on CreativePro.com here, Pariah S. Burke's on QuarkVsInDesign.com here, Jeff Fisher's Logo Notions commentary at Creative Latitude here, or my own comments on Designorati.com, if you're a glutton for punishment (I also have one on somewhere here on the Times, but I think that'll be enough linkage for one article).
Anyway, it wasn't long before Quarkitis hit. Blogger Jonathan Miller, at this post on his political commentary site Blogoland, wittily and snarkily noted two similar logos – philly.com and Lucent Technologies. Are they similar enough to be plagiarized? Likely not. Are the similar enough to make OSM look unoriginal? Could be. That's kind of in the eye of the beholder – follow the links and judge for yourself.
The biggest conflict isn't the logo, though, it's the name. Open Source Media already seems to be in use: an independent journo who promotes a podcast through his URI http://www.radioopensource.com uses just that name for his site.
A combination of pressures – liability to the already extant Radio Open Source and general humiliation amongst them – have contributed to the site going back to its working title, Pajamas Media, a reference to the oft-forwarded remark that bloggers post news to the world whilst sitting in front of thier computers in thier pj's (the URI, http://www.osm.org, remains unchanged). The illustration at the head of the article is a screenshot of the logo as currently represented on the site's masthead, and is a clever and somewhat self-deprecating way of shifting identity. The new identity is typographical rather than graphic but preserves the colors of the original logo – the dark grey of the letterforms and the dark cyan go to the dots over the minuscule i's.
It's true you just can't check enough, and thorough research is a necessary thing, but one wonders exactly how much happened when a simple Google search could have turned up conflicts.