Whilst I was away on holiday I received a text from Claire saying she had spotted one of our designs on a range of toiletry bags in a Gift shop whilst she was away for the weekend. The design in question (below) was one we had created at least six years ago. We knew we hadn't licensed the design to anybody other than the company who produce gift bags and wrap.
In fact ourselves and everyone concerned had made the decision to withdraw the wrap and gift bags from sale after realising that Volkswagen had licensed the shape of the camper van and even though our design didn't have the VW logo on we were still breaching the copyright law. This came has a huge shock to us at the time and only came to light when a shop in Germany who were stocking the wrap received a letter from Volkswagen asking for royalties.
So, even though it was a best selling design we decided to pull the associated products and put the mistake down to experience!
Claire started to do some research and after googling 'camper van fabric' was amazed to see our design all over the internet on Etsy, Facebook, Ebay and Amazon not too mention loads of small designer/maker websites. It suddenly came to dawn on her that the design had been copied several years ago, probably in China when we had sent the design to be printed for gift wrap.
We have taken legal advice and now have to write to the importers of the fabric and tell them we do not endorse them using the design as it has been produced without our knowledge or consent.
So any of you thinking of sending any designs overseas for printing or even licensing to companies who use China for production, make sure you use a reputable company, we thought the one we used was reputable and they came with lots of recommendations from companies within our industry, this same company has since gone out of business but apparently copying in China is rife, so please beware.
We are so pleased we switched all of our printing back to the UK and only use reputable companies!
The above photos are of a cosmetic bag featuring our design, with a piece of fabric Claire purchased from Ebay.
A piece of our original gift wrap on the right, with the copied design on fabric on the left.