In ‘a New Way of Looking,’ Something Familiar

Updated 12:38 a.m. Tuesday | The newly formed national political organization called No Labels should have perhaps followed the advice of its own name.

The group, which proposes “a new way of looking at politics” to get past partisan gridlock and which recruited Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and other luminaries to speak at its opening today, also unveiled its Web site. It included a grabby graphic of a menagerie of animals — giraffes, seals, dogs, butterflies, moose, hippopotami — that are blue on top and red on bottom like the standard Democrat donkey and Republican elephant.

If the graphic looks familiar, that’s because it bears a very, very striking resemblance to one that is at least five years old — and belongs to someone else. The older graphic was created by the designer Thomas Porostocky and included in a book compiled by the graphic artist Milton Glaser titled “The Design of Dissent.” Since 2008, Mr. Porostocky has been using it as the logo of his own political organization, More Party Animals, the mission of which is also to encourage the development of alternatives to Republican and Democrat.

Mr. Porostocky wrote in an e-mail this evening that he had not heard from No Labels and therefore did not want to “speculate on how or why they would do this.”

He added, “To be honest with you, I’m pretty surprised that something like this was even attempted considering their relatively high profile. It’s just an extremely lazy and careless way to launch your organization. There’s no need to rip people off when there are plenty out there who are willing to work with you legitimately.”

But the man who designed the graphic for No Labels, Dave Warren, a 30-year veteran of Madison Avenue, said that he came up with the concept completely independently. Mr. Warren said that he decided to riff on the donkey and elephant using clip-art animal shapes that are available free of charge or copyright.

“Conceptually, what I was trying to figure out was how to get away from the elephant and how to get away from the donkey,” Mr. Warren said. He said of Mr. Porostocky, “I’m sure his thought process was similar.”

Update, 12:38 a.m. | Mr. Warren’s design was removed from the No Labels Web site Monday night.

Look again at the two graphics. Not only do they use many — though not all — of the same animals, but in one section containing a giraffe, parrot, dog, seal, stork, hippotoamus and butterfly, the sizes and positions of the animals are, to the naked eye, identical.

Mr. Warren, who among other things did groundbreaking work for Absolut vodka, bristled at the suggestion that he had stolen the design.

“I do my own thinking, man,” he said. “Feel free to come to one of my classes at Parsons.”

He added: “I have a long and storied history on Madison Avenue. I’m not stupid enough to steal anybody’s work; I have too much faith to come up with my own ideas.”

As for Mr. Porostocky, Mr. Warren said, “Tell the other guy to Google my name.

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