A Toronto-based designer of a children’s streetwear line says Toys“R”Us is selling a knock-off of her creation.
Ivy Chen said she and her business partner design the cheeky illustrations on Bebe Fete clothes for babies and toddlers.
Chen said a friend tipped her off after seeing a onesie at a local Toys”R”Us which looked like one of her designs. After comparing the two products, Chen was certain it was.
The onesie, by Montreal-based Novel Teez, was made in China with cotton and polyester and retails for $7.99. Meanwhile, the Bebe Fete romper is made in Canada with bamboo and cotton and sells for $59.95.
CityNews confirmed on Tuesday the Novel Teez onesie was still for sale at a Toronto Toys”R”Us store. The retailer said it contacted its distributor for an explanation.
When informed of the copyright infringement, Novel Teez offered its apologies to Bebe Fete and claimed it didn’t intentionally copy the design.
“We have stringent protocols when it comes to ensuring our graphic designs are original,” said sales director Christine Ferrari. “However, it does seem like this style has slipped through the cracks and we will be doing an investigation within our organization.
“Note that only 800 units were produced and we have no intention of repeating this style.”
Paul Banwatt, an intellectual property lawyer with Gilbert’s LLP in Toronto, said in general, copyright laws in fashion and design aren’t as clear-cut as other sectors, especially when it comes to the shape of a product, for example, if it’s a onesie or a romper.
He said while designers can and should register a copyright on an image, it’s not necessary for them to do so to claim copyright. They do have to prove copying happened.
“That’s the beauty of copyright,” he said. “By making the thing, you get protection.”
The onesies were also sold on Amazon.