The owner and designer of the popular Ubuntu Baba baby carrier has written a scathing blog post in which she accuses local retail giant Woolworths of having “shamelessly copied” her product.
According to Fin24, Woolworths has admitted the similarities with the Ubuntu baby carrier and their product, and has subsequently removed the item from their shelves.
“I’ve just found out that Woolworths has shamelessly copied the complete design and concept of the baby carrier that I have put my heart and soul into for the last 4 years of my life,” wrote Shannon McLaughlin.
McLaughlin told the publication that she hoped the issue did not reach a point where legal action would have to be sought.
The small business owner accused Woolworths of using her “Stage 1” and “Stage 2” names for her two different carriers, and designating those terms as Google Adwords keywords so that when someone Googles “Stage 1” or “Stage 2” baby carriers their items, and not hers, come up first.
The Ubuntu Baba owner said the retailer used the same colours and had copied her “exact pattern”, listing several features she alleged had been duplicated. She also said the retailer was undercutting her by selling their version of her product for less than her original. She noted her product was made locally while the Woolies version was manufactured in China.
The full blog post can be read here.
Woolworths has been at the centre of similar claims before.
In 2012, the retailer was forced to take a range of vintage cold drinks of the shelves after it was ruled that the products were an imitation of Frankie’s soft drinks. Frankie’s accused Woolies of copying elements including their packaging, flavours, and tagline. The Advertising Standards Authority agreed, particularly as far as the advertising and slogan were concerned, ruling that these had been “deliberately and intentionally copied”.
Then, in 2013, Woolworths was hit with another scandal when artist and designer Euodia Roets accused them of copying one of her designs. She claimed she showed work to the retailers, in a bid to potentially become one of its suppliers, but no deal was signed. Then, she saw a cushion upon which a picture of a hummingbird similar to one she had shown them was printed. Roets accused Woolworths of copying her design, a claim the company denied.
“Yes, we are aware of the issue and are urgently investigating. We take issues like this incredibly seriously,” said a representative for Woolworths.
“We will send through feedback to you as soon as possible,” she added. We will update this article with any further comments from the company.