Did Microsoft plunder Linux for the Popfly logo?

May 19, 2007

Did Microsoft plunder Linux for the Popfly logo? While Microsoft maintains that Popfly isn’t a Google or Yahoo copy, the same can’t be necessarily be said for the Popfly pink duckie logo, which has some strong conceptual similarities to the Linux Tux penguin logo.

Microsoft has already admitted that it called in consultants to come up with the name “Popfly”, obviously realizing it wouldn’t be able to come up with a cool Web2.0 name on its own. The company even jokes about its lack of creativity on the Popfly website:

“Well, left to our own devices we would have called ‘Microsoft Visual Mashup Creator Express, May 2007 Community Tech Preview Internet Edition’, but instead we asked some folks for help and they suggested some cool names and we all liked Popfly”.

Perhaps this lack of creativity has also filtered into the process by which the Microsoft developed the Popfly logo.

There are some striking similarities between the two logos:

  • First of all, they obviously look similar, though of course the Popfly logo is a 3D rendered image, while the Tux logo is a drawn image.
  • Second, they both feature birds (yes, the penguin is a flightless bird).
  • Third, both logos are unbearably cute, which is a defining characteristic of the Linux Tux logo.

No doubt the creative geniuses who came up with the Popfly logo would have looked at other logos in the IT arena for inspiration, and it appears that may have been too strongly inspired by the Tux logo.

The copyright holders of the Linux Tux logo, Larry Ewing, Simon Budig and Anja Gerwinski, have been contacted for comment, as has been Microsoft.

Given the ongoing tension between Microsoft and the open source community, I personally think the Popfly logo is too similar to the Linux Tux logo. It should be changed.

I would suggest that the creative geniuses who came up with the Popfly logo should have looked a little further than Linux for inspiration. 

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47 Responses to “Did Microsoft plunder Linux for the Popfly logo?”

  1. skoob:

    This isn’t the first time Microsoft has been accused of stealing ducks: http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2001/02/41822

  2. Mark Simon:

    The duck images is not a logo. They’re just ducks. You need to relax.

  3. Mark Simon:

    The duck image is not a logo. They’re just ducks. You need to relax.

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  5. Reed Loefgren:

    The popfly “logo” is nothing more than a flourescently colored image of a “rubber ducky” baby’s floating bathtub toy, like the type widely available in stores across America and probably elsewhere as well. Nothing to see here; especially creativity…

  6. Rudi Lucios:

    So, are you suggesting that it would be plagiarism to make a logo that is either cute _or_ depicts a bird, or just one that depicts a cute bird?

  7. rabscuttle:

    Tux _IS_ cute. Popfly reminds me of Barney the purple dinosaur, and that brings back a whole slew of nightmarish memories.

  8. Jason L Perry:

    Duck != Penguin

    Not even close.

  9. linuxBob:

    John, you’re an idiot.

  10. Chris Travers:

    I would point out 2 things:

    1) Tux is a far better logo than the pink duckie. If this was an attempt to reinvent the wheel, then they succeeded in reinventing a square one.

    2) MS ought to be *ashamed* of the pink duckie image.

  11. name:

    give me a break

  12. Julio:

    Oh, please. It looks like paranoid androids took over this site.

    The yellow rubber duck is the default user image for MSN Messenger IM software.

  13. Grant:

    Why did you waste your time writing this article? Someone just found stock photos of something that was different from the rest which may be ‘expressing itself’, found this pink rubber ducky and then found a regular rubber ducky to compare against. I personally think this article is just a sad excuse for trying to stir up the linux/MS debate and communities. It should be deleted.

    and MS ought to be ashamed of the image? wtf. IT’S A LOGO!! a web2.0 logo! it’s nothing that anyone there should be ashamed of. they didn’t ‘invent a square wheel’ when developing a logo that you don’t approve of.

    I’m a linux user and i’m not gonna shit on a trendy new thing that microsoft is putting together just because part of a logo that is supposed to catch your eye is a pink ducky. If you want to tear them apart, wait until you have a valid reason to do so.

  14. zcat:

    That pink duck is about as far from “Tux” as you can get. Someone needs to cut back on the meds. Or isn’t taking enough, who knows..

    You want and example of a Microsoft logo that looks like a FLOSS logo, look no further than the MSN spaces near-clone of Ubuntu’s logo: http://join.msn.com/spaces/overview

    Or the whole”Office-Open” XML naming, which could only have been done to cause confusion with Open Office..

  15. zcat:

    That pink duck is about as far from “Tux” as you can get. Someone needs to cut back on the meds. Or isn’t taking enough, who knows..

    You want an example of a Microsoft logo that looks like a FLOSS logo, look no further than the MSN spaces near-clone of Ubuntu’s logo: http://join.msn.com/spaces/overview

    Or the whole”Office-Open” XML naming, which could only have been done to cause confusion with Open Office..

  16. ae:

    Let’s see…

    1. Different birds
    2. Different size
    3. Different color
    4. Different style

    I guess they both have a bill…that’s about the only commonality you could possibly come up with. What a ridiculous article.

  17. Homer:

    Since tinky inky has lost popularity, does this mean Popfly is gay ?

  18. DWZ:

    This is a bit out there… Your main point seems to be:
    1. It’s a bird
    2. It’s cute.

    Are you seriously saying no other companies in the world have logos that don’t meet those two criteria?

    I’m looking at the back of a Australian 50c coin now (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Australian_Fifty_Cents_Rev.jpg), it contains a bird (Emu) which is arguably cute… is that also a copy?

  19. urbanriot:

    I have these in my bathroom… I’m going to sue Microsoft.

  20. somedude:

    Not to mention THIS obvious copy of the penguin. Used by a very wealthy group that doesn’t even care about linux or other OS’es…
    http://www.penguin.com.au/

    Get real! If a beak or cute bird drawing is enough to get screamed at by the linux community. Then you can do some news about my 5 year old daughter copying Tux. She does seem to like drawing the fellow. ;-)

  21. king_arthur:

    Obviously none of you guys is a mac user. :D

    http://cyberduck.ch/ this is a well known, open-source project for mac OSX that has been around for over three years.
    Not only proves Microsoft to be short on ideas but, worst of all, the consultants they call in are even less capable.
    /P

  22. VividU:

    Is this a parody?

  23. cuby:

    If anyone could be offended by this, then it might be the creators of OS X’s Cyberduck ftp client (http://cyberduck.ch/). There, similarity (though the Cyberduck logo looks quite a bit better IMHO)!

  24. Bosco Bearbank:

    Rubber duckie you’re the one
    You make bath time lots of fun
    Rubber duckie I’m awfully fond of you
    etc…

  25. John:

    It is just a rubber duck coloured, to say the idea of any cute bird (logo) is stolen from linux is just plain wrong. That logic is worthy of SCO.

  26. indyhill:

    They look alike because they both have eyes and a mouth and are birds…. that’s about it. They don’t look anything alike.

  27. Jerry:

    Great way to generate traffic, eh? Make a ridiculous claim and watch everyone flow in. I should try that some time.

    It’s paranoid stuff like this that makes Linux look bad. You can buy those ducks all over the place, I have two of them right here at home.

  28. silliness:

    This is just silly.

  29. Anthony Taylor:

    Uhm, doesn’t anybody get satire anymore?

  30. Dave:

    I don’t really see the resemblance to Tux besides the “they’re both birds” thing. It looks closer to the Adium or Cyberduck logos to me, and even that’s a big stretch.

  31. Nathan:

    Comparing the two images, I can’t help but think:
    “Eyes in the front, the animal hunts. Eyes on the side, the animal hides.”

    http://www.skullsunlimited.com/educational-resources.html

  32. Unknown:

    That’s ridiculous. One is a duck and other is a penguin. Linux nerds has too much time to waste to find out anything useless and non-sense about Microsoft.

  33. Jon:

    Nope. No story here. Thanks for wasting my time.

    Not buying the satire angle either. The Onion is satire. This is a desperate reach for a ‘news’ story. (And I’m a M$FT hater who has been using Linux since 1993)

  34. MS FANBOY NOT:

    This is not rocket science guys. The way some of you guys are talking it’s as if you work for Microsoft’s PR agency.

    Linux hates Microsoft. Microsoft hates Linux.

    Lesson for Microsoft, avoid logos/mascots of cute birds.

    It’s already been done, by, ur, Linux.

  35. LuckyMe:

    That duck is sold at walmart. My kid has one.

    http://www.duckplanet.com/images/small/watermelonseedeye_darkpink.jpg

  36. Timothy Tuck:

    Microsoft is just trying to appeal to the gay community. They know they have the highest amount of disposable income, its true. This logo has all the gayness of Barney the Dinosore (spelling pun intended) and Tinky Pinky Winky.

    Come on that is a gay logo if i have ever seen one.

    All he needs is sparkles and a fricken rainbow. Dress him up in leather and he is ready to go clubbing. I can see him now in bondage gear. ROFLOL.

  37. Teraf J.:

    Isn’t the rubber ducky and the penguin thingy related. I think they are cousins?

  38. Roger:

    I’m outraged by MS’s actions!

  39. Short answer:

    No.

  40. m1ke:

    I want those 30 seconds back.

  41. Atom:

    Silly article.

  42. Joe:

    This is ridiculous. A poorly-founded whingefest at best

  43. Art Vandelay:

    Ahahahahahahaha! Is this a joke?

  44. John:

    My 1 year old daughter has the exact same duck. You can buy them from you local supermarket.

  45. Bruce Wayne:

    if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck …

    people, this logo is probably just a geek developer reference to duck typing & the proliferation of ducks in design patterns

  46. Doodee:

    Thanks for sharing

  47. Noelle @ Fort Wayne 4G Wireless:

    Hi there, just doing some browsing for my Fort Wayne 4g website. Can’t believe the amount of information out there. Wasn’t what I was looking for, but very nice site. Have a great day.

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