Note to Startups: If you’re going to steal from others… well, just don’t steal from others

Curebit vs 37 Signals

The internet is rife with theft. People take content and concepts from others on a regular basis and pawn it off as their own. It’s so common that many websites (including this one) have given up on fighting content-scrapers, spammers, and intellectual property thieves altogether. If you can get by without being too-badly hurt by them, it often isn’t worth the fight.

Sometimes, however, it is so blatant that it cannot be ignored. Such is the case with Y Combinator startup Curebit who took design ideas and code directly from 37signals.

The startup just received $1.2 million in funding from Dave McClure’s 500 Startups fund and abruptly copied a good chunk of “inspiration” from 37signals’ product Highrise. 37signals was founded by Ruby on Rails creator David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried who are well-respected within the startup world.

Jolie O’Dell from VentureBeat describes the productivity company as, “not the most low-profile place from which to nab a little ‘inspiration.'”

The fallout is already starting and there is a battle brewing between the companies. The response from DHH was harsh and it seems to be only the beginning.

DHH Tweet

Curebit co-founder Allan Grant took to¬†Hacker News, a Reddit-style news aggregator and discussion board run by Y Combinator, to try to clear things up. The comments indicate that things are far from getting cleared up and that 37signals might not be the only victim of theft for the sake of “A/B Testing” by Curebit.

Kinoma Curebit

Launching a startup is hard. It takes investments of time, money, energy, passion, brainpower, faith, and luck to make it work in an ultra-competitive environment during a down economy in an election year. The odds are stacked against everyone getting started, but there are those who have made it with less than a recent 7-digit investment to help it along.

Curebit and others who are willing to, for whatever reason or validation they feel is appropriate, steal directly from others without offering the slightest attribution are taking a risk of tanking before they get started. Invoking such phrases as “ghetto testing” or “shoestringing” will not change the fact that if you get caught, you’re going to lose more than you gained.

Don’t be lazy. Don’t be stupid. Be original. Not everyone can take a concept from someone else and turn it into a multi-billion dollar corporation poised to launch an IPO shortly.

By Lorie Wimble

Lorie is the "Liberal Voice" of Conservative Haven, a political blog, and has 2 astounding children. Find her on Google+ and Twitter.

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