Cape Town businesswoman accuses Woolworths of copying her baby carrier

By Sarene Kloren Time of article published Jan 8, 2019

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Local businesswoman and founder of  Ubuntu Baba Carrier, Shannon Mclaughlin is alleging that Woolworths has blatantly copied her product design and is selling it at a third of the price that she sells hers.

The original product is manufactured in a small factory in Retreat, employing 8 local staff, whilst the Woolworths product is manufactured in China.

She wrote an open letter to the retailer on her blog, where she states:

It’s 16 December 2018 and 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.

At first glance, it looks like they’ve just used my product name ‘Stage 1’ and ‘Stage 2’ baby carrier. On closer inspection, I realise that they’re using the exact same colours, grey and navy to my baby carrier. Upon further investigation, it appears that they have designated the terms ‘Stage 1 carrier’ and ‘Stage 2 carrier’ as Google Adword keywords. So when you search the term ‘Stage 1 carrier’ or ‘Stage 2 carrier’ – the exact names which are unique to my little business – Ubuntu Baba baby carriers and in which my business has a reputation in – Woolworths adverts come up above my organic search results.

Mclaughlin claims that the Woolworths Product Developer purchased an Ubuntu Baba stage 1 carrier in September 2017 and an Ubuntu Baba Stage 2 carrier was purchased by the Woolworths Sourcing Administrator, both which were delivered to Woolworths Head Office in Longmarket street.

The Woolworths adverts come up above the organic Google search results for Ubuntu Baba baby carriers.

This is not the first time that Woolworths has been taken to task about copying designs - the Hummingbird design story and the Frankie's case i n 2012 - which they lost.

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