For the Record: Adobe Kuler vs COLOURlovers

I get emails, instant messages and love notes pretty often asking if I’ve seen Adobe Kuler and if I’m upset about it… So here is my opinion on the matter.

Back in Nov. of last year Adobe Labs launched Kuler: A 5 color palette creation tool, built around rating, tagging, commenting and sharing the palettes. Craftzine gushed, “Not only can you create your own palettes, you can get inspired by the popular color combinations already uploaded by other users. Genius!”

I take the last word in that sentence with pride. The idea is genius… I should know, I created it 2 years earlier when I built COLOURlovers.

Adobe Took a Proof of Concept and Duplicated It.

In a web 2.0 world of mash-up technology and an explosion of new sites and ideas, I understand how easy it is to be inspired by something else… but when you’re basically broke and a billion dollar company borrows your idea, it stings a little.

I put a couple years of time and lots of my own money into building COLOURlovers… not to mention all of the time our first members put in to really help the site grow into a great community. We put in the dirty work to prove the concept that a color community based around creating 5 color palettes could succeed… Adobe skipped over that part.

COLOURlovers Adobe Kuler
Created December 2004 Created November 2006
Make, Rate, Tag & Share 5 Color Palettes Make, Rate, Tag & Share 5 Color Palettes
Grayscale Site Design Grayscale Site Design
Color Spelled with a “U” Color Spelled with a “U”

I’m a huge fan of Adobe. As a designer I’ve used Photoshop & Dreamweaver since I started in this business. I contacted Adobe’s legal team to let them know they had duplicated my efforts, and that I was hoping to find a working relationship and partnership rather than to proceed with any sort of legal actions… The Adobe legal response was “Other than the abstract idea of allowing users to create and discuss individualized colors and color combinations, the CL and kuler sites are entirely distinctive from each other.”

One could argue that the “abstract idea” is actually a pretty straight forward one. Clear enough that COLOURlovers was built around it and then so was kuler. There have been color tools before & there have been design communities… COLOURlovers was the first community built around the sharing of colors and color palettes.

The main function of kuler is to allow members to create 5 color palettes and have others tag, comment & rate those palettes. That is exactly the same function of COLOURlovers.

And while Adobe claims no “similar look & feel” COLOURlovers was designed to have a gray scale color palette so as to not take away from the colors users submitted. Adobe took the same neutral color palette but inverted the light background for a dark background.

To the right are the colors used in both the Original COLOURlovers design and the Adobe kuler site. kuler is on top – COLOURlovers bottom.

In Adobe’s words the colors used in the site design of kuler are… “Far from sharing any common ‘look and feel’…” Well you’ve seen the colors we used in our designs… How far do you think we are? I’d say about a smidgen on the brightness knob.

Part of infringing on trademarks is creating confusion in the market place. Last year if somebody was to tell you about a color website they found that was gray colored and had a funny way of spelling Color with a “U” there was only one website they could have been talking about. COLOURlovers.

   COLOURlover Kuler Palettes

The Market Noticed the Similarities

“that’s a big rip off, they just copied” – View the Source

“Anyone seen Adobe’s Kuler ( )? Seems like a complete fu*k-over of to me.
Not cool.” – View the Source

“Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Looks like someone got the idea from someone else” – View the Source

“Looks like a bit of a steal from which now seems to be down and planning a coup.” – View the Source

“…I’m not sure that Adobe improved on any of them. Even after seeing this new Adobe site, I still prefer the Colour Lovers site. In my mind, it’s a much better execution.” – View the Source

“Of course, they have not invented it – our friends run a similar project for already several years.” – View the Source

“Adobe gets in on the palette site trend with Kuler, which tastes a bit like COLOURLovers” – View the Source

“Adobe has created a slick flash app for creating color themes to use with creative suite apps. Cant give them all the credit though, its based at least in part on well-established colourlovers community site.” – View the Source

“when i saw this adobe site, i thought instantly to, which is the same thing, but waymore developed and useful.
color squares are larger in adobe’s site, but palettes and colors have more information on colourlovers.” – View the Source

Where It All Stands Now

I’m over it. I was upset and worried when I first saw Kuler launch, knowing that it would get emailed out to millions of Adobe subscribers… and considering I had just taken a hefty loan to rebuild and expand COLOURlovers. But since the relaunch of COLOURlovers we’ve been growing rapidly, adding tons of new features and planning the next great additions to the community. Kuler is a nice color tool… but, one thing they missed when they borrowed the recipe was the amazing community.

I’m grateful for the thousands of active members who have helped fill COLOURlovers with almost a hundred thousand palettes over the last two years. It is your support, dedication and amazing creativity that pushes our community to grow and continue being the top color & inspiration site on the web and one of the best communities around.

Author: COLOURlover
My name is Darius A Monsef IV & my friends call me Bub(s)(ba). Chief Lover at / Cofounder of Founder, Philanthropist, Designer, Builder & Writer. P.S. I love you.

28 thoughts on “For the Record: Adobe Kuler vs COLOURlovers

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