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For the Record: Adobe Kuler vs COLOURlovers

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.

COLOURloversAdobe Kuler
Created December 2004Created November 2006
Make, Rate, Tag & Share 5 Color PalettesMake, Rate, Tag & Share 5 Color Palettes
Grayscale Site DesignGrayscale 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 Colourlovers.com" - View the Source

"Anyone seen Adobe's Kuler ( http://kuler.adobe.com )? Seems like a complete fu*k-over of http://www.colourlovers.com 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 www.colourlovers.com 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 colourlovers.com 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 www.colorlovers.com, 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.

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Showing 1 - 30 of 62 Comments
I "started" to sign on over there and noticed how slow it is. I don't think I'll continue with the one page Adobe 'survey". They won't get any "scrounged from colourlovers" palettes. Perhaps it would just be better if I stay off ... and let them die a slow death.

They'll have to do better than that to beat Colourlovers.
I joined Kuler the day before I found Colourlovers, but to be honest, I was only able to log in to that site once, I got errors all the other times. I love the fact that I'm not limited to file types for downloading the pallets here at CL like folks still bothering to go to that other site. I for one will sing the praises of the community even after having been here for less than a week!

The site is amazing, well thought out, fast and intuitive. Adobe may have tried to take this great thing and make it theres, but they failed horribly!
Very interesting. personally I like the how colourlovers is more intimate and social. Kuler tries to win us over with a flashy spiffy tools. Lets compare it to life. When someone truly reflects on life they think of the valuable relationships they have had and built. Yeah they have thoughts of their valued ideals such as wealth but with out "love" and companionship all else is trivial.

Colours is about the community, about self expression.

Abode ain't got anything on you mate... this site wins hands down every time. It's way more interactive, there's a user profile page, love notes, a wonderful blog with those fabulous articles from you and ruecian, contests, a discussions forum, and I'm sure lots of new top secret features which will make this an even more incredible experience.
I've personally come into contact with so many other wonderful people though this site and for that I wholeheartedly thank you. It's a great place to exchange ideas and it's provides great visibility for my work and for many other members as well.
Even though I work daily with photoshop and illustrator and would be lost without them, I say boo to Adobe. Not only for so blatantly copying this site, but with all their creative talent and enormous staff, failing so miserably at trying to do so.

Yours in colourlove,

Darius Is Da Man
Wow I didn't know that it is this bad.
How can they just copy almost everything to the dot. Is that even legal?
I use many adobe programs and I think that they are superb.
But, after reading about this, I'm a disappointed customer.
btw.. doesn't this sound kind of like... coke vs. pepsi and microsoft vs. aple (back in the day)

I think competition is an absolutely important aspect of business, it keeps things improving and evolving... but there is a big difference between us and an old competition between Coke vs. Pepsi or Apple vs. Microsoft.

This is not two young start-ups competing in the same race... or two heavily backed Venture Capital goliaths going at eachother...

This is a guy with loans up against a company that had a dissapointing second quarter of 2006 with a net income of only $123.1 million.
When I first saw Adobe Kuler, I thought it was a great idea, but never used it.

When I first saw ColourLovers, I thought it was great, and now I read every post.

Real people beats inanimate palette window everytime.
Actually, I came across the kuler site before colourlovers but I totally didn't "get" it...so I'm not on that site, I'm on this one. Obviously this one is a lot more user-friendly. Too bad giants have to steal from the little guys...the rich get richer...sickening.

Spelling colour with a U isn't funny, silly, it's how we Canadians have always spelled it.
i'm speechless. i truly don't know what to say.

there is nothing like Colourlovers. This place can't be duplicated. the friends and inspiration that i've gained from this place are priceless and immeasurable. how awful that they're trying to cash in on what you've created. it sounds like they're counting on the fact that you can't afford to sue them, because if it weren't a financial issue (they having tons of money for their legal department) they would surely lose. you'd win hands down.

i have been a loyal Adobe user for nearly 20 years (illustrator, photoshop, pagemaker), and i feel more than a little bit let down. its an evil world out there.

you definitely win hands down with all of us. i can't begin to tell you how much i appreciate what you have done here. its creative, interactive, intensely human and based on love. you can't get any better than that.
I remember stumbling across both this site and Abode Kuler at around the same time (quite a while ago), though I gravitated toward's adobe's first, since I already had an account. I made a palette or two, but there really isn't a community to receive them, just a list it goes on you can browse through... it was discouraging and I abandoned it after like, two hours. ;p

But this site is a keeper! ♥♥ Original and like, freaking awesome. Keep it up, I love it.
Argh! i thought i had never seen kuler before so i went and looked. i realized that i had looked at it before, but not in detail. i tried to go further than the first page and it froze my computer. i had to restart and i will not be going back there again! bleh. :P
@ darius: yeah you are right... >.
Hi Darius, from France!

I discovered your story yesterday, on TechCrunch, and I discovered the Adobe Kuler story at the same time. For me the case is clear : Adobe simply decided to copy your site, I agree with your point of view and you have my support.

A big advantage of your COLOURlovers site vs Kuler site : being made in plain standard HTML, your site allows direct links to palettes, colors and coulourlovers, like for instance my http://www.colourlovers.com/palette/93423/UbicMedia

Being made in Flash/AIR or whatever Adobe proprietary technology, Kuler does not allow it... and that does not facilitate the sharing of palettes and colors!

Kuler is lame. It lacks heart!

Adobe peeps should be ashamed for shoplifting your ideas.
At the end of the day, they spelt colour wrong; and you spelt it right. You win. They lose.

To be honest, I didn't even know Kuler existed until this post. I try to avoid all newsletters or Adobe updates. I like their products, but not enough to be spammed by them.

I'd also recommend COLOURlovers to a friend anyday over Adobe Kuler.
I have to say that the kuler interface is very, very lovely--the palette enormously stretched across the top of the screen like that.

Otherwise, meh. It's clearly a rip-off, it's uninspired (except for that beautiful interface), and, what's worse, it downplays the users at the expense of the palettes. When you come to Colourlovers, it's obvious that the people are what's important, and I love that. It feels like a community, whereas kuler feels like a piece of machinery.

Also, according to the (admittedly variable and exception-ridden) rules of English, a word like "kuler" ought to be pronounced with a long vowel sound--like "cooler" or "kyooler". (It would need a doubled consonant--"kuller"--to make it a short vowel.) It's a terrible name.
I've seen kuler before I joined this site (notice I signed today), but with closer inspection it's obvious who ripped who, sure competition is important but not in this way. You've done a wounderfull job on this community, and keep doing so because it's doing wonders ;) Keep up the good work-

If it makes you feel better they probably spent 100-times the amount of your loan to develop it rather than just running a sponsorship on your website, maybe with a mini-site. Or maybe they sent the project to India where they used your site as a template (and probably also used pirated tools to program it).

In the meantime this should at least make designers to use, er, "non-purchased" copies of Adobe's tools rest easier. If Adobe doesn't care about paying others fo their work then why should anybody pay Adobe.
Never heard of COLOURlovers until I saw this blog post via digg, but now I'm glad to have registered with y'all. This website is a great idea and will be very useful for me in the future since I do web design/programming (LAMP) for a living.

As for Adobe ripping off COLOURlovers, stealing is the greatest form of flattery, yet I see how they are the big corporate giant just tromping on a great independent idea/product. Abobe should be ashamed of themselves!!! Fortunately, there are lawyers in this world who will fight for the little guys - especially with such a blatant rip off.

There is always the first-to-market risk for a small business with a great new idea, just look at the history of computer and software engineering. Everything from the first video games to the mouse are plagued with intellectual property theft. DOS was wriiten by Seattle Computer Products, yet MicroSoft fraduntlenty claimed to have developed DOS when selling it to IBM. MicroSoft settled with Seattle Computer Products for $1 Million in 1986.

Thanks for a great product. I'll try my best to spread the word about COLOURlovers.
Btw, here in India color is spelled as COLOUR (with a U). I think its the same in UK and in many parts of the world.
michaelo - ~laughs~ good point! yeah, i feel way less bad now about the copy of photoshop i'm using
Well now we won't have to worry about those pesky Adobe Ads on some pages, eh? The nerve they've got. I'll be sure to boycott the local (or not so) AUG (Adobe Users Group) in New York.
I cannot believe the ignorance in these comments and those found on digg.

First of all, if you don't want to sound like a child, ignore the fact that the sites use grayscale color palettes and the letter 'u' in the name of the product. It makes for a very unintelligent comparison. Secondly, how many social networks are out there for different things? Do you all really believe that MySpace was paid by Facebook when facebook started? They are the same general idea, in different implementations. For that matter it could be said that yahoo profiles predated myspace and are the same thing. Sure, COLOURLovers and Kuler are sites of similiar ideas, but one is not a rip off of the other by any means. I won't make any claims of which is better, because there are different strokes for different folks, and not everyone will agree. But stop whining about it, if you were truly "over it" as you say, then there would be no need for this blog post, or the banner at the top of it. You are just out looking to make a quick buck because someone improved upon your idea in order to integrate it into their already existing products. Big whoop, it's been done for years, in every industry, it's called competition, and it fuels innovation and progress.

So why don't all of you get off your high horses and either shut up and use the service of your choice, or create something better. Whining on a blog post and calling Adobe the big mean man is not going to do anything for anyone. And having Adobe pay COLOURLovers for the work they may or may not have been inspired by sets a bad precedent for other people to expect payment for ideas, ideas anyone can have.

I found kuler long before COLOURLovers, and both are nice, but it isn't really a big enough issue to require a bitchfest over it.
When Kuler was announced in the launch of CS3, Colourlovers instantly popped in my mind as it was introduced. Most of the audience thinks it was brilliant while I was shouting rip-off
I just tried Adobes Kuler to see how it works. I must say Colourlovers is the best! :D
phantommana, your website has a grey color scheme, and you and COLOURLOVERS both have 'o' in your names, you better watch out, they might think you ripped them off
Based on comments and your effort, if you have a proof that you designed it much earlier than Adobe and if you can prove (with dates) that you'd created those files much earlier than Adobe did, I'd suggest hire a lawyer who specializes in copyright infringement and sue them.

Maybe then when they'll be slapped in a face with a lawsuit, they'll talk differently and offer you a settlement or some type of business partnership. To design such website takes a lot of time, amaizing skills, design theory knowledge, flash expertise and much much more. Don't let your work and sweat go to waste just because they said "no similarities". Go all the way.

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