Strikingly Similar Design…

Here it goes...

I'm a posting this today as I understand the importance of standing up for yourself as a designer & your intellectual property rights... to not be scared... to speak out & protect what's rightfully yours.

I have received numerous emails lately from concerned clients, customers & supporters of my work.
It appears that British superstore Marks & Spencer  have a design that is well... what can I say... more than 'strikingingly similar' to my 'Etched Floral' hand drawn original design (first published in 2008).

It's one of my signature designs & I just want to point out  that I never granted permission for Marks & Spencer to use my design...

My 'Etched Floral' design has been a key print for my brand & has been sold successfully on my own branded products along with achieving international success as a licensed design throughout the UK, Europe & the USA.

Here are the images... I have been told that the top has been produced in at least three different colour ways & has been documented as being displayed in several key window displays from London to Bradford stores & many more...

I wanted to share this with you on the blog to raise awareness.

The Marks & Spencer  top (above left) & my Etched Floral tea towel (above right)

My 'Etched Floral' tea towel (above)

My 'Etched Floral' tea towel (above)

The top in store at Marks & Spencer (above)
 My 'Etched Floral' card (above)

Marks & Spencer top (above left) My 'Etched Floral' tea towel (also in pink, on the right)

My 'Etched Floral' tea towel (above)

My licensed British 'Etched Floral' wallpaper design (above)

My licensed USA 'Etched Floral' lighting design (above)

My 'Etched Floral' design licensed with Seascape lamps (2 images above)

  The Marks & Spencer top (above) 

My 'Etched Floral' oven mitt as featured in 'The Times' as the 'Linda Barker Choice' (above)

My 'Etched Floral' tea towel range featured in celebrity chef Gizzi Erskine's column for 'Company' magazine (above)

My 'Etched Floral' oven mitts & apron featured in 'Concept for Living' magazine (above)

The 'strikingly similar' design shown in an M&S window display in the Bradford city centre store.

The list goes on... the design has made several appearances on television also.

My blog (as it always is) has been left open for voluntary comments & feedback.

249 thoughts on “Strikingly Similar Design…

    1. Anonymous

      shocked at big stores stealing, have they got no designers of their own?? alwaya the big stores picking on small or individual designers…Name and shame them in tabloids. Good luck

  1. Samantha Ford

    Rachael this is disgraceful, an absolute rip off, there is no question about it!!! hope you get it sorted swiftly. sam x

  2. Emily Morris

    This is awful! Shame on M&S who should be supporting great british designers like Rachael but instead are allowing this to happen! the product should be removed form the collection!

  3. Emma Walch

    OMG Rachael, I’m in shock at what they’ve done. The pattern they’ve done is a like for like copy. Keep us informed what your going to do. They can’t get away with that. Em x

  4. missmaimy

    Disgusting, I’m used to seeing this kind of behaviour from other high street shops but had stupidly thought M&S were a little better than that. Oh dear.

  5. SOOKIE1204

    That really awful i hope you get to the bottom of this and that something can be done about this. Good luck and keep us all posted

  6. Tamsin Seed

    Rachael – I’m so shocked and disgusted to see this, especially from such a reputable brand like M&S. I am sure you will be doing everything you can to assert your rights as a designer and to sort this out, and I’m sure you’ll be doing it in a dignified and professinal manner as ever. There’s no doubt that it’s a complete copy but it’s disgusting and just such a shame that you have to go through it all. Sending much love to one of the most lovely and dedicated designers I know. T xx

  7. Leah Quinn

    Holy Cow Rachael! – this is one of those teaching moments – so hope and praying for you that you not only receive credit where due – and I do mean credit as in monies, but also have the company stop franchising on your wonderful talent. Do keep us in the loop!

  8. YarnAddictAnni

    Shocking, it’s identical. I hope you can get some compensation or reaction from M&S. As a kntiwear designer, I’m all too aware that this goes on although it hasn’t happened to me yet. Good luck in fighting this violation.

  9. Helen Stevens

    This is one of those moments that all designers hope they will not have to face throughout their career. Utterly disgusted and even more shocked to see Marks And Spencers have stooped to this level of copyright theft, especially when you work so closely with their giftware department! I hope you get to resolve the matter in the exact way it needs to be dealt with 🙂 x

  10. sarah taylor

    It’s is a blatant copy every detail is a replica of yours. Disgraceful.I will be sharing this xx

  11. Gabrielle Treanor

    I was so surprised when I saw this T-shirt hanging in my local M&S, your designs are so recognisable that I thought you must have a deal with them, I didn’t think M&S would be the kind of business who would steal a design. Little did I know… So sorry you’re having to deal with this, I hope you get a full apology and compensation very soon. x

  12. Madeleine MacMahon

    A friend of a friend retweeted this (so I don’t know you personally) but am shocked. As other people have noted, unfortunately things sometimes happen in an untraceable manner (ie ripoffs on holiday) but for a ‘reputable’ brand like M&S I am, like others, shocked. I don’t usually comment on the stories I read, but I’m hoping that enough people showing their disapproval will create enough of a concern that they can’t ignore it!

    Good luck!

  13. Jessica

    I spotted this in the window of M&S in Scarborough and immediately thought of you. Such a blatant copy, not really any way they can deny having any knowledge of stealing this design. Good luck with resolving the issue. x

  14. staceysheppard

    Hi Rachel, I am so sorry to hear that your intellectual property rights are being infringed. Have you tried contacting ACID for help and advice? I interviewed the CEO of ACID on this exact issue so you may find my article helpful. You can read it here. How to Protect Your Work From Design Thieves I hope you manage to resolve this. Good Luck!

  15. starrybluesky

    Hi Rachel – shocking and something we really don’t expect from somewhere like M&S . I was going to suggest ACID too as a possible source of advice. Good luck and well done on standing up for yourself and your designs.

  16. lynne

    Go for it, they wont have a leg to stand on! And they reported a big profit loss today too, the last things they need is bad press. Good luck!

  17. Anna Duffy

    Blatant and outrageous! Unfortunately in this case imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery. They are taking the ****! M & S should know better. If they want your designs so much they should pay for them. Hope you get it sorted soon and they do the right thing xx

  18. Cakewalk Yarns

    I don’t care what conventional wisdom says; imitation is NOT the sincerest form of flattery. It’s just theft. Good luck to you, I hope you are able to resolve this to your satisfaction without taking away too much of your time.

  19. Tanya Hammond

    I’m so sorry Rachael – shame on the designer and M&S! I hope they withdraw the products – it’s shockingly similar, and from a so called reputable company it’s such a terrible thing for them to have done…good luck with following it up.

  20. eyecontact

    Absolutely right to stand up for yourself here. Good for you. But sorry you have to endure this sort of ugly confrontation. Keep us posted on what M&S says, as they have some big explaining to do.

  21. Jenn

    Hi, Rachael, how absolutely awful! That isn’t even imitating…it’s outright theft because the design is the same down to the line. I’m so sorry. What can we do to help?

  22. Marta Spendowska

    That is just plain ugly game. I hope you’ll be apologized and compensated.
    On the other hand, that’s just a tribute to your brilliance.
    I’d contact a lawyer and send them a formal email.

    All the best!
    :: Marta

  23. Anonymous

    That is outrageous!!! I work for a supplier of high street stores(not M & S) and i have come across “lazy” designers that simply scan in others work, sell to the buyers as their own work and if the buyers don’t recognise the design it goes through. Have you contacted M & S? Good luck and hope you win your fight for recognition.

  24. Anonymous

    Disgusting how dare they think they can rip off your design and not face repercussions, it’s identical. Good luck

  25. Anonymous

    This is disgusting, for such an established company to stoop so low is beyond words. I’d like to think they will at least attempt to show some class and do the honourable thing by you including a public apology….. Good luck! Matt

  26. K Stewart

    I’m glad you are standing up for yourself and for your business. Why won’t companies just employ designers if they want new designs. But I am not surprised by M&S, at uni my friend did a placement there and was sent to New Designers with a camera to pinch designs. Shocking.

  27. Anonymous

    Have you spoken to anyone in TP? Maybe someone can help put you in touch with the right people at M&S to put this right?

  28. Diane Marsland

    Hi Rachael,
    I would not be at all suprised to find out that M&S, London do not know that this is a total “knock off” of your design…… they probably selected the fabric from their overseas suppliers who make up the garments. The suppliers probably copied your design (exactly by the looks of it)
    However M&S are ultimately responsible and you should demand that they take the product of the shelf or give you a fee. ….. I shall be interested to hear about the outcome.
    Best Wishes, Diane.

    1. Jaceylamerton

      Was about to say the same. It is likely to be a supplier but M&S is the place to take your complaint.
      And yes, that’s how the suppliers work; they buy or photograph other designs. It’s not just M&S.
      Good luck x

  29. Kat Loveday

    this is ridiculous.I do expect better of M&S but i’m more angry at the designer (sorry photocopier seems like a more appropriate term) who dared to put this out as there own and M&S may not have known it was a ripped off design.

    You deserve the rights for this and it has clearly been established as your design.

    good luck with gettiing the justice you deserve and its your right to stand up for your design and never give up.

  30. Anonymous

    I imagine they don’t know either, a designer of theirs probably ripped the design off!! It’s absolutely terrible though, practically identical I’d say more than strikingly similar!! You definitely need to write to/ email head office, you should be entitled to compensation for this! I too am a designer and I would be FUMING! Xx

  31. Pinkerbell

    Absolute total rip-off of your design – hope you are properly financially recompensed – I doubt M&S would want to go to court on this, so maybe an out of court settlement, but stick to your guns and don’t let them intimidate you!

  32. Zoe Attwell

    That is outrageous! I’m so sorry, very best of luck with fighting them, you have ACID in your corner and I hope you get the considerable compensation and apology that you deserve. I certainly won’t think of M&S in the same way again

  33. Anonymous

    have you tried posting this up to twitter? I read a case very similar to this and the designer bombarded every one in the industry she could think of and the company had to back down. It may be difficult but I hope it works. good luck! as a fellow artist I am furious on your behalf!

  34. MaJo_BV

    Omg Rachael! Unbelievable! They didn’t even bother to change a single petal! It’s really outrageous! I’m so sorry… In this case is there anything you can do to make them take away your design from the market? It’s exactly the same design!!! How ca you protect yourself and fight such a big colossal? It’s incredible that they would do something like this, especially since you are already known and successful and your signature collection is all over the world in a wide range of products. They are jut stupid! Please let us know how you can defend yourself. Good luck in the battle! This is just so unethical and it’s not fair!

  35. Paula

    What a blatant rip off, M&S obviously think they can copy and get away with it, is it because you are a small independent successful designer and they think you wont do anything about it. They deserve naming and shaming and i hope you take it all the way

  36. Paul

    Take them to court. Contact them first, and explain, but then quickly threaten to take them to the small claims court. This can force them to cease trading if they do not acknowledge your complaint, and so you pretty quickly get a good resolution, as they can’t stop their business. Some of my stuff got copied and used by Wiley in their ‘…for dummies’ books, and they were very keen to settle once I discovered what they had done!!

  37. abigail*ryan

    We have an excellent IP specialist lawyer we could pass you the details of if you’re interested. We’re working with her atm.

    Just drop us a line and we can give you her name.

    So sorry this has happened!

  38. Lauren Britchford

    Hi Rachael,

    This is terrible for you and so scary that this keeps happening to designers at the moment. I assume as many have said that the buyer was unaware that the design had been copied and they will probably be hugely embarrassed. Hopefully this will all be sorted out quickly for you. As a recent graduate of the ABSPD course obviously this area was discussed (the idea of being overly influenced by someone) and I can’t believe there are lazy designers out there who blatantly rip people off like this. I was designing something the other day that had the tiniest feel of something you might create in the line style. However I loved a particular motif and continued to re-work the designs up to 10 times and ended up creating a brand new original design that had me and my style written all over it. So there is just no excuse for this!

  39. vegemitevix

    I’m staggered at this blatant copying. I had a situation on Twitter the other day when an Indian model stole my tweet verbatim, RTed it as her own and managed to get into all of the major Indian newspapers with it. I brought it to the attention of the newspapers and the model herself and got no response at all, not even an apology. I hope M&S treat you and your intellectual property with more respect.

  40. Moni

    This is outrageous and very sad to see that such a big brand has so little respect for designers. Thanks for sharing, hope your work gets recognised.

  41. thelittleprints

    I really hope this was not intentional on their part (and perhaps sold to them thru an overseas distributor, etc) and I especially hope you get to the bottom of this and are compensated. Please let us know!

  42. Lindi

    This is shocking. How they think they can get away with is unbelievable. I hope you get the compensation and apology that you clearly deserve.

  43. Anonymous

    It’s impossible to know M&S’ intentions if a third party supplier was involved, as is probably the case. However this is clearly a rip off and let’s hope M&S display some sensible conduct in rectifying things.

  44. Caroline Underwood

    If I were you I would contact DACS (the Design and Artists Copyright Society) straight away to seek advice, and then I would email this blog post to a solicitor specialising in copyright and intellectual property rights (or maybe to a few, to see who can offer you the best value for money!)

  45. beth

    That’s a complete disgrace, especially from a company that shouts so loud about being socially responsible! What is responsible about blatantly ripping off an individual designer?

  46. Kathryn Oxley

    GRRR this has made me angry! Ive recently come back from New Designers and there was a guy there looking at my work, and a friend over heard him say that he would copy and rip my work off! I was very disheartened and hope he doesnt! I hope you get this sorted Rachael its appaulling!

  47. Anonymous

    This is quite clearly an infringement of your copyright and you must seek legal advice. A good start (and free as well) would be visiting the Citizens Advice Bureau and they can offer more detailed advice.
    I’ve heard that Judges tend to lean towards the individual designer (like you) as opposed to the large organisation (M&S) when cases like this go to court, especially when there is such an obvious breach of copyright, so try to stay optimistic about this and I’m sure it will get sorted out. Good luck!

  48. Anonymous

    I would say you more than have a point here! Have you contacted M&S – they may not be aware – design may have been submitted to them and then approved.

    I would think you would have legal counsel by now, but if not, do get some and then ‘your people can talk to their people’ and get it sorted out.

    Best of luck – do let us know the outcome!

  49. Anonymous

    They could have at least used such a beautiful ripped off print on a well designed piece of clothing!!

  50. Elizabeth

    Very Sorry! Hope you can do something about it! I can relate a lot, remembering when I my friend called me when she found my ceramic designs made out of resin in a local store! They removed them as requested by my lawyer! I think you have to request the same!

  51. Anonymous

    This isn’t just similar it’s identical! Good luck!i hope you get some sort of result! Shame on M and S! I agree with one of the other comments! Post on twitter!

  52. Mary Tanana

    Geez Rachael, it IS identical! All of their loops are identical to yours! I’ve worked in the jewelry industry for 25 years, and sadly have seen this happen all the time. And it usually stems from a buyer liking the look, buying a sample of your tea towels, and sending it to a factory overseas to be copied. They don’t care, disgusting as it sounds, they just want to make themselves look good to their superiors and sell stuff. I’ve worked in factories in China, and no one bats an eye as far as copyright infringement. They used to tell me “It’s a compliment when we copy your work. It means we really like it, you should be happy about this”. I’ve seen it happen at major companies in the U.S. as well. Hope action can be taken against who is responsible. Can A.C.I.D. help at all with this?

  53. James Hollerbach

    Hi Rachel. I hope that any legal action you take will at least encourage Marks and Spencer to remove these from their stores. I dont normally shop in M and S, but if this is what they normally do, then perhaps it is no surprise that their recent sales slump in womens fashion has hit the headlines: If they have to copy individual designers, rather than create original work of their own…

  54. bethania

    Rachael, one huge infringement that tells a lot about the policy of a company. They buy stuff without knowing its origin. Hope ACID helps you, hope you get all well deserved compensation and hope this case teaches M&S and other retailers to learn how to do business properly.

  55. Gabriella Buckingham

    I am truly shocked Rachael. Especially in light of all your involvement with Tigerprint ( not that I am assuming they have anything to do with this – do they?!)
    You have a clear case. Go get em.

  56. Anonymous

    Lending my support, this is a blatant rip-off (as is the Debenhams’ stealing of Kate Dvaies Owl Sweater design) and this sort of thing needs a kick in the bum, and stopping. M and S can buy in their own designers, they should not be stealing someone else’s work. I hope you get redress for this. I am sick of big multi-nationals taking the p*ss out of the small designers……….. Fran

  57. Chris

    Sad to see Marks and Spencers doing this, as said above, something needs to be done about this, too many designers are having their work stolen by these High Street chains. I hope you get some recompence from them.

  58. Claire Penn Photography

    As a photographer I know how it feels to have your work copied/stolen and used elsewhere. It sucks. 🙁 I think you should take legal advice for sure. In the meantime, as a disappointed M&S customer I have posted the link on their Facebook page and asked that HQ have a read and rectify the situation…

  59. Lucy Liz

    Fight this all the way Rachael! They might be a “British Institution” but M&S are no better than any other chain selling mass produced products – we’re all behind you, give ’em hell!

  60. Anonymous

    Awful! And all too common. I’m a recent graduate and our college had a stand at New Designers this year. Whilst 99% of people visiting the stand were genuine, it was overheard that the MD from one company was quite happily going to ‘rip’ our designs off. You have to be so careful who you speak to, and who you trust. M&S may have bought that pattern from someone else who’s ripped you off!

  61. annelinesophiadesigns

    This is terribly disappointing to see and it’s an exact copy of your design. I would expect better from M&S so, I hope they take note, apologise and compensate you accordingly. And think twice before doing it again!

  62. Beccy H

    Quite shocking!!!! I hope the m&s products are removed from sale. m&s would take action if the tables were turned! Good luck with your fight!

  63. Anonymous

    M & S will have to back down over this one – it’s blatant. Only sorry that you have to spend time sorting it all out – I hope you are handsomely recompensed.

  64. Claire Hocking

    They may as well have traced it! Terrible to think M&S would stoop so low. Doesn’t give us designers any confidence in being able to protect our work does it. We’re not charities giving away work for free you know!! My old boss always said it was the biggest form of flattery – I say if you have to resort to copying, you can’t be a very good designer! I’m sure you’ll get it sorted out – they can’t get away with that one! xx

  65. Anonymous

    M&S won’t necessarily be aware. They can’t know every design ever produced. What has happened is some nasty little designer has decided to further their own career by stealing, and M&S should be told what sort of person they have hired…

    I agree with the person above who suggested you send them an invoice.

  66. Lea

    Totally at a loss for words! My god, that is utterly disgraceful! I really hope you get it sorted soon, I for one am not shopping at M&S anymore!

  67. Anonymous

    Not very good of M&S at all. You should write to Kate Bostock at M&S and request that all product featuring this design is taken off the shop floor and website as well as some compensation. In all fairness it is probably the supplier who copied you and M&S may well not be aware of this.

  68. Anonymous

    Everyone tweet about this, I am sure it will have an effect. I am going to do it now… with a link to this blog post.

  69. Heart Gallery

    A very blatant copy and not a subtly lifted inspirational design Rachael. I sincerely hope that M&S name and shame the ‘designer’ and remove the garments from all stores. Can ACID help you Rachael? Alison x

  70. Chrissie Probert Jones

    Solidarity from doodle by stitch – total IP theft. Could well be unwitting by the people at M&S here but that is no excuse for not having a sourcing policy that involves checking IP. Go for substantial design fee plus royalties on every item: M&S will need to disclose sales volumes to you. I’m sure ACID will have lawyers to suggest. Best of luck and keep us informed!

  71. Anonymous

    I agree, it’s probably an unscrupulous designer who purloined your design, being too lazy, stupid and unethical to use their own idea, I suspect the big cheeses at M+S didn’t know. HOWEVER, as they have used it on absolutely dozens of lines I would think you should be in line to receive a MASSIVE chunk of “royalty” payments, it would appear they like it so much and it’s certainly popular. So sue their arses and also deman royalties on everything made and sold up to date.

  72. copyrightgirl

    It is copyright infringement, but just check your licences to ensure that nobody you licensed to was either a subsidiary of the M&S brand or that anyone could sub-license to them. Else you will have nothing to go on. If those situations aren’t the case, I’d suggest you instruct a solicitor as this is unacceptable and they should have approached you for a licence to use. It’s unlikely to end in court as you are (by all accounts) the strongest party, so you’d probably end up with a settlement offer, but seek legal advice as I’m not a lawyer 🙂

  73. Annemcx

    Has anyone posted this on M&S Facebook page? I just have and will be interested to hear their response to it – couldn’t see much else on there about it.

    I hope M&S will not be selective about what stays up there, this is worthy of open two-way enquiry and conversation.

  74. katebajic

    Blatant copy of your design…can’t see they have any excuse for not removing items from sale & offering full apology!

  75. shortwork

    This stinks, M&S hang your head in shame…

    As a photographer my images are regularly pinched by magazines and websites, uncredited, which is frustrating. I even found one company selling prints of my work in the US.

    I agree with the IP lawyer suggestion, maybe join the FSB(small fee, good legal advice) and use ACID in a similar way…

    Good luck – grumpy tweet to follow shortly!

  76. Ali'sCraftyBlog

    That’s absolutely outrageous Rachael. It’s definitely a copy. I hope you’ll find the power of the community will bring this to a quick halt with apologies and compensation. The last time I saw this happen (culprit Claire’s Accessories) they had to appear on Watchdog. It was satisfying to see the designer vindicated.

  77. Anonymous

    Sue for copyright infringement. They’re earning off your work and you’re entitled to seek damages. Obviously find the best solicitor you can, but the reality is, ANY solicitor should be able to have a field day with this.

  78. Anonymous

    That is shocking, though all I will say is that its probably one person’s bad decision rather than the company overall, that single individual is the one responsible rather than a whole company themselves, and I would like to think that if it were pointed out to them that M&S would do the decent thing. On a flip side though, I LOVE your wallpaper….. I might need that….

  79. suzyspellbound

    You have my support, I hope you get on ok. These legal things are very tricky and they may get out of it somehow…pass the buck to a supplier etc? Good luck fight the good fight if you can!

  80. Anonymous

    Terrible to copy you and they’ve been quite cute to alter it slightly by angling it and making it closer together. I hope you get help to achieve a public apology in stores and in the national press, as well as royalties from all sales. Perhaps they could be intelligent next time and hire your services rather than copying you.

  81. Martin

    Rachael, before you do anything, read the following article:

    Photographers get ripped off more often than any other image makers, so take their advice on the best way to deal with this sort of thing.

    Note the following important point: “the first contact that you have with an infringer is very important – it sets the expectations for the amount of the claim, and if done badly it can severely limit your options before you have had a chance to get any legal advice.”


  82. Anonymous

    Speechless…I am so sorry to read that. Good luck with sorting it out – I hope they will pay you a good amount of money for their mistake. x Maike

  83. monda-loves

    You know, I was in M&S just a few weeks ago and saw one of these tops and immediately felt really pleased for you, because to me it was clearly your design. It’s awful that this has been done without your consent. I’m sure you’ll be able to sort this out with them (being the massive brand that they are, I’m sure they’ll want a swift and amicable resolution, and not something that could be a huge dent in their image in the press) but am honestly shocked that they tried to pull this off in the first place.
    I hope it doesn’t become too much of a headache for you to resolve.

  84. Hannah Nunn

    No Flipping way! Just heard on radio that M&S are not doing well at the moment. Quite frankly they don’t deserve to! If I had seen that in the shop I would have assumed it was your instantly.

  85. Kat

    I’m amazed by the audacity of M&S. I had been running a few of their ads on a couple of my blogs but since reading about this (alerted by Twitter) I have removed myself from my affiliation with them today as a (small) gesture of support to you. I hope that you are successful in action against them for this blatant rip-off of your lovely design.

  86. Pins and Needles

    This is really disgraceful, and I will be RT-ing it – good luck and I hope that M & S do the right thing and either recognise, credit and pay you as the designer or stop using and selling your design immediately.

  87. Kitty Kay

    Hi Rachael
    As an ex-fashion retail buyer, and having trained with M&S as a graduate, I would advise that you firstly contact their P.R. department and make then aware of this issue, referring them to your blog to see the evidence. Having been made aware of it, they should them refer it onwards; however you should also seek to get the contact details of either the buyer for that product area (Womenswear Jersey department I’m guessing) or the Buying Manager/Buying Director and follow this route also. The majority of clothing products produced for M&S are sourced via their supplier base, so M&S may not even be aware that this is your design and that their has been an infringement, as the product will have been developed for them by one of their suppliers. I’m sure, however, if you get onto this straight away and flag it up with them, they should act upon it, as they do not take this type of issue lightly!

  88. BlackEyedBean

    Shame on M and S and others like Debenhams. They can well afford to negotiate the rights to use this and other people’s designs and should be ashamed of themselves for ripping off such fine talent!

  89. Anonymous

    Oh, for goodness sakes, look at you all with your witch hunt attitudes? Rachael, obviously they are the same design but did you first inquire with M&S about if they even know about the situation? Think, someone else could have gone to M&S with your design and they have no idea about this. Perhaps given this information they can address the issue? If they know about the situation, what is their stance on the matter? Are they saying that it’s not the same design, that they have permission already etc? Rather than throwing it out there, go speak with them. From what I gather you have worked with M&S before? If that is the case, they might already have some belief that they can use this design? But, from what I can tell…this just looks like a big stir up and not constructive.

    1. Jaymini

      Yes, agree. Big corporates usually have minions as lookouts who don’t know the difference between copying and research. Best to talk with M&S. If you have worked with them before it makes sense that they might have come across your work in their ‘records’ and someone just put it out there without checking. Best to talk to them first before consulting lawyers.

    2. Julie

      Witch hunt! Attitudes! Rachael has remained dignified about the whole situation. Bloggers can ‘delete’ comments yet she has allowed both sides of the argument to be presented here, so it’s clearly not a ‘witch hunt’! I’ve just read the recent press and it’s been made clear that Rachael contacted M&S in the first instance and gave them the opportunity to do the ‘right thing’. It’s been a whole month before she went public. I think you have been very ‘gracious’ allowing people to comment like this on your blog Rachael.

  90. Anonymous

    I don’t know whether you’re a member of ACID (Anti Copying In Design they campaign on behalf of designers on this very issue. It would be well worth you getting in touch with them if you haven’t done so already – all the very best, a nightmare when this happens.

  91. TEZofAllTrades

    I would kill for a job doing this kind of thing for a company like M&S! Why would someone with such a great job stoop so low and rip off a fellow creative!? Especially when Tesco did the same thing recently. Makes me sick. Chin up Rachel, hope you go after the bastards!

  92. Anonymous

    I know that paperchase does the exact same thing, stole one of my friend’s designs exactly from her grad show. No compensation despite it now being their no 1 selling line #thievingscum

  93. Julie Clay Illustration

    Look at all the support here Rachael, there’s no doubt it’s a rip off. Some people just have no scruples, and stoop to do the lowest things! Wishing you all the best in sorting out this issue, as this design was one of your founding images! Good luck Rachael 🙂

  94. heart.hearth.home.

    My daughter and I saw the T-shirts in M & S in Kent and we both said ‘Oh, Rachael must now have her designs on clothing…’ and we thought, that’s great news for her. Turns out it isn’t and they have fraudulently stolen your design. It is disgusting and happening too often now. Hope you get it sorted out speedily and not at your expense!

  95. BeadyPool

    I saw the top the other week in Marks in Camberley and knowing your designs I did a double take. Presumed very wrongly that they had maybe bought the rights off you. Hope you get soemthing sorted with M&S.

  96. Dawn Turner

    I would have thought you’d have an excellent case to fight this Rachael, as you have lots of documented and published evidence that it’s your design.

    I do agree that it’s possible they don’t know, although really when presented with a new design, they ought to ask for evidence of its origin…

    Hope you get it sorted.

  97. Anonymous

    Off to court you go…

    blatant theft..and don’t forget..mental anguish..

    M & S should also sack their lazy designer..

  98. Hydrangea Girl

    The pattern is an exact copy. It’s blatantly obvious when looked at it in detail. Shame on you, M&S.

    Rachel, I hope you at the very least 100% of the profits from all copied M&S t-shirts. And a public apology.

  99. Jaymini

    You should talk to lawyers at Gateley UK. I had this happen to me but back when I wasn’t so established and had no proof and it could have been subconscious copying or a coincidence. This most definitely isn’t anything other than blatant copying.

  100. Relznik

    I haven’t read all the many comments above, but I just wanted to say, you CAN take on the ‘big boys’ and win… I remember seeing on tv a while ago how Claire’s Accessories (I think.. ) did some dinosaur bone necklaces which were a copy of some done by a small, independent jeweller. They took on the chain of stores and won! So, I hope you are in a position to take some legal advice. Good luck!! x x

  101. Jody

    I would say that is actionable. I hope you pursue it. And a good social media campaign won’t hurt either. I will be happy to forward. It is a lovely design and you deserve the royalties. Shame on them.

  102. TaylorStitched

    Cannot believe Marks & Spencers would do this!!! Such a blatant copy of your iconic design.
    You have such a clear cut case Rachael and you have so many people behind you.
    I hope this is resolved soon. I love your design and they can’t get away with pinching it.
    Shame on the high street again for stealing designs from independent design talent!

    Best of luck.

  103. Anonymous

    I am shocked…I love your design and you should be able to protect again this… It has so obviously been stolen. you really should sue….no doubt about it. Shame on them….its is disgraceful.

  104. Demelza Beaumont

    To be fair to M&S, I expect they’ve been let down by a supplier who has signed to say the work is original…when it isn’t.

    Looking at it would appear that your work would be covered as an Unregistered Community Design (assuming you’ve not registered it). As you say that you first used it in 2008, it would appear to be more than 3 years old, so out of protection. If you registered it in 2008 then they are infringing.

    Have you approached M&S about this? While it is clearly a copy, I’m not sure you’ve got any legal grounds – I’d check where you stand before spending money on solicitors.

    The term “Intellectual Property” can be unhelpful in this sort of situation, as it conflates a lot of different types of protection: copyright; design right; trademarks; patents among others. You need to be clear of the specific right which has been infringed before taking this further.

  105. Renée Wallen

    Rachel, speak to Robert Lands at solicitors Finers Stevens Innocent in Gt Portland St – he specialises in exactly this kind of thing. Tell him that Renée Wallen (me!) told you to call. I can also recommend an accountant who specialises in fashion/fabric design who can advise you on all aspects of your business. Email me if you’re interested and I’ll put you in touch –

  106. Dawn Clarkson

    I cannot believe that Marks and Spencers have risked a similar thing. The flower is identical (even the scale) the stem has had the curly bit cut out. It is really shocking and a great mistake on their part. I hope you do something about it.

  107. Jonathan Morgan

    FYI M&S just (finally) responded to those of us who posted your blog post to their FB wall:

    “we’re sorry for any disappointment caused to Rachael Taylor from the sale of a t-shirt – we bought it in good faith from a direct supplier. After investigating the complaint we immediately withdrew the product from sale. Thanks, Dean”

  108. Anonymous

    I doubt this was a board decision.

    Most probably your design was ripped off by some lowly idiot. Negotiate with M&S to licence your work, and for payment of past royalties.

  109. LizzieP

    I would definitely ask them if they would like to licence your work as they obviously like it! Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

  110. Anonymous

    Thats terrible 🙁 I’m glad you’re a ‘fight for your rights’ kinda person, they shouldn’t be able to do this. Good luck getting things sorted! X

  111. thesequinnedsheep

    I’d imagine M&S had no idea that this wasn’t an original design made for them, and wouldn’t have known that this was your design. I’m delighted to hear reports that they have withdrawn this tshirt from their range, I hope that is true! Good wishes, Rachael, for getting a good result. I don’t know you but am a big supporter of UK designers and hate seeing cases like this – Tatty Devine got their case resolved and I hope you do too.

  112. Katie Moore

    this is terrible, and I hope it is correct that M&S have withdrawn the design. Such a blatant example of what happens with designs all the time, and thanks for bringing it to everyone’s attention… as someone suggests, maybe this is the way to get your work licensed by M&S! Good luck sorting it all out.

  113. Esme Rose

    That’s crazy! I can’t believe the designers thought they could do such a thing, or that they would need to?! You’d think they would employ talented designers with their own creative minds….weird!

  114. Liz Plummer

    I am really shocked, I thought M&S were better than this, obviously not. As a (now potentially former) good customer of theirs, I hope that they will clean up their act and set up a proper contract with you. This sort of design theft is all too common. I wish you well in your dealings with them…

  115. Holly

    OMG, appalling! It’s not even a similar design it is the SAME design. I agree, get some legal advice and if solicitors look expensive then try the media. Designers need to stand up and protect their work otherwise these big firms will run rough-shod over them. Good luck, x

  116. Sarah Walters

    I have a little design business and had myself and business partner were forced to sue Tesco for exactly the same sort of copyright infringement.
    Once your design is in production, it is automatically copyrighted. You have a watertight case that will cost you to pursue it – but we did and found a solicitor willing to fight it on no win, no fee.
    In the end, we were offered a substantial settlement on the eve of it going in front of a copyright judge at High Court and Tesco had to withdraw and surrender all stock. Very satisfactory…
    …and we got a nice (hard earned) holiday out of it!

  117. Dan Parnell

    This is a disgrace Rachel. Surface pattern designers, artists and every independent in the industry work tirelessly to develop their own brand and unique’ness.

    This is a blatant example of a big corporate (who is continually on the pr wagon championing itself as a responsible business) disregarding the law to its own end. No responsibility and certainly no integrity. Also their tweets that try to pass the blame onto the supply chain echos the fact they cannot even admit where they have failed operationally and morally.

    I hope they compensate you and this is a lesson for them – for the sake of everyone in the industry. Or else I gather M&S will continue to take advantage of others in pursuit of the bottom line.

  118. Anonymous

    Good for you Rachael – we’ve been tweeting all day in support. Hope you get a satisfactory result from it. Keith at Mini Moderns

  119. Randy

    This is so unfortunate. I’m quite sorry you’ve had to endure this, Rachel. I’m a U.S. attorney working in small business law, and yesterday I ran a blog post about Kate Davies, who is currently dealing with a similar situation. I hope everything is settled in your favor!

    “Crafts, Cats, and Copyright Infringement: Kate Davies’ Knitting Knot and Protecting Your Creativity”

  120. Anonymous

    Someone’s in big trouble here, no question about it. Disgusting behaviour, please publicise this and write to Newspapers etc, go for all you can get. I’m a pattern designer too – this is absolutely not on – poor you.

  121. Rachael

    Sorry to hear your designes are being copied. I get this happning a lot to me by bigger artist , and beause they are better known they get more exposure and it looks like their work. it’s so, so unfair.
    Your work is beautiful. keep on making!
    from ArtYarn. x

  122. Anonymous

    I worked for M&S many years ago in their head office in various buying departments. This not a new practise but neither was ever as blatant either. It’s probably a design submitted from a supplier and no one has done the homework at M&S to check its not a exact copy. Contact their legal dept….you might find you are given the offer as a consultant as a sweetener !

  123. Julia

    I would go to the press – shame them into action – morning TV would love something like this. Can’t believe people are so shameless – it’s not even a copy it’s identical!

  124. Jem French

    Give them a chance to put it right before launching into the litigation. You might win some friends in the purchasing department and use this as an opportunity to expand your business, reach a bigger market and get your work more widely recognised. It is probably not M&S who have set out to rip you off, but one of their suppliers, so give them a chance. If you launch into legal action without approaching them first you might be reducing your chances of gaining some useful business.

    1. Jen

      Friends in the purchasing department? Have you not looked at Rachael’s website? From my understanding she has designed for M&S in the past! ‘Gaining useful business’? I should think Rachael would want nothing to do with M&S now!

      I’m sorry Rachael but I think people need to do their ‘homework’ on you before making uneducated comments. You have international success why do you need M&S?

  125. julie

    saw this link on frontcover cosmetics facebook page as they are dealing with similar problems, can’t these huge companies come up with their own ideas? Glad the problem is getting some exposure and you get it sorted

  126. theblackbirdcircle

    They maybe considered a very respectable store [marketing or real intentions/purpose?] but they have done that with other designers work as well. I’ve recognized at least four in the last months [and this was just in the home department]

  127. Cathy Lane

    M&S have done this for years. I used to work for a footwear manufacturer in London 15 years ago. They only supplied M&S. Their ladies range buyer once gave me a pair of Kurt Geiger shoes that cost £95 and told to copy it as closely as possible for them to sell at £15. If you ever refused, they would threaten to reduce the number of designs they bought from the company, (which meant millions in income) or they would just blatantly give it to a rival company. Plus they would label shoes as ‘made in the UK’, a big selling point at the time, when in reality the majority of their footwear lines were made in China and only had the sole attached in the UK. M&S are scum.

  128. Ania Originals

    Ania Originals Fused Glass Art Uk
    -25 years ago I was making and selling appliqued childrens coats at a craft cooperative in Maldon Essex. A major store saw these when I took them to London to see about making for some exclusive stores. A friend told me that a major shop on the high street was selling my coats. They weren’t my coats but an “almost exact” replica. What could I do – I was small fry compared with the global company !!!

  129. Victoria Hunter

    Wowzers! It’s as if they photocopied your work. I hope that you get reasonable compensation for the theft of your design. How deplorable. Maybe a lawyer would agree to take on the battle and get paid from the winnings?(sorry, I don’t speak “legalese”)
    Wishing you the best of luck!
    How unethical of them!!
    Chin up! At least you know that you’re BRILLIANT xoxo

  130. Anonymous

    This is not right!! they must at least offer you a public apologize and ta e out that shirt of they line.. or ma e a deal with you!

  131. Anonymous

    My sister has behcets and sent me this link. No idea who you are, but SUE…RIGHT…NOW!!!!!!!!

    This is absolutely outrageous.

  132. Nicky Ovitt

    Thank you for bringing this to all of our attention. I wish you the best in resolution and hope that other companies in all industries will also take notice! In support and admiration, Nicky

  133. Chris

    The employee at M and S responsible for this should be fired, you should be reimbursed as if you had sold them the rights, and a public apology given.

  134. Anonymous

    They don’t even try to change it from the exact print! Disgusting but fortunate for building your case against them. xox

  135. EMILY MAY

    Outrageous! Really shocked me!! You should start with threatening to take this to the press, and then try to settle – I’m sure they’d pay out a fair amount to keep you quiet, they aren’t going to want this reputation! Obviously this could go to court, but you’ve gotta have a lot of dolla behind you to take on M&S!! Good luck, keep us posted! x


    Thank goodness you licensed your lovely design and it has been in magazines and newspapers, as the agreement and the publications will be dated and will strengthen your case as you can prove that it was your design before it was M+S’s.
    Good luck challenging them , don’t give up!

  137. retailchampion

    I agree with one of the other people who posted – chances are the fabric supplier copied the design, presented the fabric and they loved it… M&S should take action to address this, but, their supplier would be accountable as the contracts between M&S and the supplier require that the supplier presents original work for which they have authority to use.
    Times may have changed since I worked for them, but in me recollection suppliers had to adhere to very strict guidelines and clearly in this case a supplier has taken a chance and it has back-fired.

  138. Anna Stassen

    So sorry you are having to deal with this AGAIN Rachel. I am so glad that you are standing up for yourself, hopefully with good support from ACID and your solicitors.

    A company as big as M&S have NO EXCUSE not to do thorough due diligence before buying products from suppliers. This “bought in good faith from supplier” argument isn’t going to wash forever!

    I do hope that this is resolved so you receive what is rightfully yours! I can’t do much more than spread the word to raise awareness to forewarn other designers:

    Hang in there!! We are all rooting for you.

  139. Debra Wenlock

    Best of luck for a swift and as stress-free a resolution to this as is possible Rachael. Hopefully M&S will do the right thing with appropriate apology and suitable compensation.

  140. June

    I agree with others, start with M&S as they are a reputable company and will wish to find out how your designs have been missold to them. They will know who their suppliers are, and will track back, and come to an agreement with you over a License and/or compensation. They will not want the bad publicity this infringement is placing on them and will be sure to ask their supplier for evidence of original design. I doubt the infringment is of their (M&S) intentional doing. Good luck.

    1. PGD

      Best comment on here. Nice to be reminded that some people understand how mistakes *can* be made in good faith, and we shouldn’t rush to judgement.

  141. Donna Heart

    Rachel I just want to say that I feel for you – it really made me sick looking at the images you posted, so I can only imagine how you must be feeling. I do hope you can find a solution with the company, and I salute you for being bold and courageous in sharing this – and so you should. Shame on you M&S. Rachel, you rock. Keep your eyes fixed on your dream – you are one step ahead always because no-one can do what you do, it’s so wonderfully unique. Bless xxx

  142. Victoria W

    My mum and I both bought the blue flower tops from M&S a few weeks ago. My mum took hers back a few days ago as she felt the neck was a bit low cut for her, but she’d lost the receipt. But M&S gave her a full refund anyway because, they said, there was some manufacturing problems with it. Of course, now I know it’s because they’ve withdrawn them because they’d ripped off your design!! The knitter Kate Davies is having the same problem with Red Herring at Debenhams ripping off her OWL jumper design, and Tatty Devine had same issue with Claire’s Accessories. Maybe you guys need to get together to campaign against big companies ripping off other people’s designs?

  143. Woody

    Wonder whether M and S will get in touch- would seem decent thing to open a discussion? Would have liked to have set this as a discussion in our Stretch magazine Art and Design issue. @stretchmag

  144. Laura Felicity

    Hi Rachel,
    I’m so sorry to hear this has happened to you, what a stressful nightmare!
    What a cheek of M&S to do such a thing!
    The thing is with these massive companies is they think they are big enough to steal smaller designers designs and get away with it! We are the ones who take our love, passion and time to come up with and draw our design, and they go ahead a steal our idea, it’s pure theft!
    You must not drop this, go and take action! Good Luck!

  145. Anonymous

    (I also published this in your later post) Unfortunately this is happening more and more, Large corporations like these are making cut backs, reducing the sizes of their design teams and leaving the responsibility of the end product to the buying team – who buy stuff and copy it, or in this case buy stuff from suppliers which has been copied. Blatant copying like this doesn’t often happen, but is happening more and more as cutbacks are being made. I would like to add that working as a textile designer is incredibly competitive and incredibly underpaid as a result. Original work takes time, and suppliers and retailers are not prepared to pay for that time. They just want to rip off something that they can see is working already to save time and money. Running off the point slightly but I would just like to add that a graphic designer gets paid twice what a textile designer gets paid, both noble trades, but such a difference in pay – this has always really p***ed me off.

  146. Jon Jennings

    Unfortunately M&S seem to do a lot of this. I remember the fairly recent incident with the handbags and also another one about a decade ago with a range of very distinctive designer swimwear.

    I have no idea how they get this reputation as such a lovely company.

  147. The O's

    a shame this has happened. same thing happened to my brother when he was in fashion a few years ago. Freelancers submit their designs and the big companies don’t research to verfiy the originality of it. Just make sure they surrender the stock to you so it doesn’t end up in a charity shop minus the M&S label.

  148. Kate Pielou

    This is appalling Rachel. What worse is the possibility that it’s an oversight my M&S, and one of their designers is copying your work and they didn’t fully check before agreeing to use it. You may find there are two parties to pursue legally – Good Luck!!!

  149. Anonymous

    Good luck Rachael! You will win and gain compensation and hopefully pay the extra expense you have had to contend with. I hear this a lot and it is very disappointing. So please tell us how you get on! You are our heroine in this story. Well done for having the courage and spirt of mind to fight for what you believe in. Your Students will be proud of you, as we are too!

    Keep smiling Rachael!

  150. Anonymous

    Well done Rachael for Carrying on and keeping your grace all through this. Your students will be proud! : )

  151. PGD

    Amazed that so many people are ready to just assume that M&S knew all about this and carried on regardless. More likely they hired a designer, and it’s the designer who’s responsible for any infringement. That doesn’t mean M&S wouldn’t owe you anything; it just means they’re not necessarily the big, bad ogres that some people want to call them. They may be as surprised (and angry) about this as you are.

  152. Randy

    We have run another blogpost referencing this issue as it pertains to Bastille Day and a change in the landscape for small businesses and independent designers.

    We’ll be posting once more clarifying the differences between US and UK design right legislation since many American commentors have indicated they are not quite aware of the distinctions–which seem all the more important in light of situations like this one and that of Kate Davies.

  153. Libby

    M&S probably won’t know, they wouldn’t have purposely ripped off the design, there would have been someone picking fabrics that are likely to be imported from overseas. They will have hundreds of different fabric suppliers.
    They were not “Stealing” they were merely buying what was given to them. It just happens that they have bought a fabric similar to yours. It’s not M&S hat’s in the wrong, it’s the supplier, blame them.

  154. Mark

    Appalling, I’m glad you are on the way to seeing it resolved.

    Like Julie I came here through FrontCover Cosmetics facebook page – they too are worried that all their efforts creating a different, successful and exciting brand with its own identity will be simply copied by a major retailer with no principles.

  155. Mimi and Tilly

    I hope this matter is resolved quickly and easily for you, and totally to your benefit. You must feel heart-broken and furious all at the same time, after working so hard on your designs. Sending support through the internet ether, and seeing M&S in a totally new light. I have always thought of them as a trustworthy company but seeing this blatant theft of your designs has shocked me. I hope that they act with much more respect for your work once it is clearly brought to their attention that they have committed design theft, whether inadvertantly or not.

  156. Anonymous

    Rachael you should definately take action against M & S they should know better, to make an example of them , Tiffany Designs LLB Honours

  157. Jane Smith

    that’s just a drect copy! They haven’t even tried to disguise it!!! 5 mins in photoshop and they could have had a slightly different version. Unbelievable that a high street chain would rather steal than pay you for your design. Well done 🙂


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