Mon. Dec 16th, 2019

Under-fire Woolworths bosses to meet designer at centre of “plagiarism” row

Woolworths Ubuntu BabaIt’s a David vs Goliath battle that David – or in this case, Shannon McLaughin – could end up winning, after she accused Woolworths of stealing her designs.

under fire woolworths bosses to meet designer at centre of plagiarism row 1024x768 - Under-fire Woolworths bosses to meet designer at centre of “plagiarism” row

ubuntu baba - Under-fire Woolworths bosses to meet designer at centre of “plagiarism” row

Food and retail giant Woolworths have been accused of “picking on the little guy” this week, after Cape Town designer Shannon McLaughlin noticed her patented baby carriers were being sold by the store without her permission.

The Ubuntu Baba product is distinctive in its shape, texture and waistband design. Last month, McLaughlin noticed that Woolies had effectively ripped off her idea, and even brought the receipts with her to prove it. Her blog post published at the beginning of the week went viral, as South Africans demanded justice for the small business owner.

Ubuntu Baba to take on the might of Woolworths

Well, it looks like the wheels of righteousness are turning. Woolworths confirmed late on Tuesday evening that they would indeed be sitting down with McLaughlin in order to sort this issue out. They stated that they’re treating her accusations with the utmost respect:

“We are taking this allegation extremely seriously and believe it wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss the issue publicly before chatting to Ubuntu Baba first. We have a meeting scheduled with Shannon tomorrow to discuss the matter.”

Woolworths official statement

The “Stage 1” and “Stage 2” baby carriers that were on store shelves seemed somewhat inadequate, in comparison to Ubuntu’s original design. The safety information is all wrong, and the items have been mass-manufactured in China, cheapening the quality of the product.

Woolies and their previous brushes with plagiarism

McLaughlin stated that they were selling the carriers for around one-third of its original price, meaning she’s been priced out of business by her own invention. However, the carrier has been removed from Woolworths’ online store and her complaint has been upheld.

The problem is, Woolies have undeniable form for this kind of behaviour. They’ve been at the centre of a few plagiarism rows in recent years, including a dispute with a soft drinks company and the alleged theft of a hummingbird design for scatter cushions.

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