Thursday, July 12, 2012

Marks & Spencer (Update)

Following on from yesterday's blog post.
I've now released a statement that went out to the press during the early hours of this morning.

Marks & Spencer have responded to me & the public (via Twitter) with "We're sorry with the upset caused. We bought the t-shirt in good faith from a supplier & after complaint, withdrew from sale".

Here is my press statement...

"The top in question that has my design on them, was brought to my attention from a concerned colleague on the 9th of June, who wasn't aware that I had gone into fashion -  let alone stocked Marks and Spencer.

Other emails started coming in from my fellow design students, who I teach on my surface pattern e-course were congratulating me on my new fashion line? and at this point I was completely confused at what had happened?

Images were sent to me and when I saw the finished product. I was not happy, as this is not what I would have created with my signature design, especially if I was launching my own clothing collection. The top was also selling in various colour ways.

More and more sightings of the top in different colours, in different stores around the UK were seen and reported back to me, some even made it in to Marks and Spencer's front window displays.

I contacted my solicitor who then gathered the evidence and contacted Marks and Spencer.

It took over two weeks from the initial complaint, to take the tops out of all the stores, so I am afraid a simple sorry is not good enough, because of the way I have been disrespected and treated.

A quick action to immediately remove the tops from the stores should have happened, but unfortunately it took longer.

This is about the principle and the ownership of my own design that is used on many different products that I supply to my clients and shops. This design is one of my signature designs and I am recognised for this. After much deliberation (over the past month) I finally decided to go public with this as I knew I had to make a stand. It was my moral duty as a designer, teacher and creative writer.

I will be continuing to state my case and will be taking this matter all the way. I hope it continues to raise awareness about such an important issue and will hopefully stop it from happening again to other independent designers".

Words can't express how grateful I am for all of the lovely support that I have received recently. I really can't thank you enough...

I'd also like to say a 'BIG THANK YOU' on behalf of all the independent designers out there. Thank you for defending us. You have really helped to raise awareness about this important issue! It seems to be happening to a lot of us!

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


  1. well done, I am full of admiration for you. Thank YOU for sticking up for all independant designers. Only sorry you are having to go through this.

  2. Well done, I agree that you are going through a lot of ....! but a BIG thanks from all us "little designers" out here who are supporting you. x

  3. Although I agree with what you're doing and M&S should have reacted and acted faster, at the same time it is more than likely that the real issue lies with a designer working for the supply company who sold M&S this design in the first place. I think that M&S probably aren't the ones who should be to blame, despite their slow reaction and the wrong name is going to be dragged through the dirt. Just an observation though. Good luck Rachael, no designer deserves to be treated this way!

  4. well done Rachel! keep going , although suppliers may be responsible,
    M&S have to have guidelines for suppliers, act faster and be nicer.
    Nobody works in "trust" these days... specially in the fahsion corporate world. they should know better and I hope they learn the lesson.
    They should have headcount to develop their own prints and this will help young designers to stand and protect their work.
    I hope this is solved in your benefit . They should allow you to decide what to do with the stock, otherwise garments can finish still sold in the black market.
    Wishing you all the best !
    Rosie Martinez-Dekker

  5. I can't believe that it took them WEEKS to act upon your request. Unbelievable. Kudos to you for standing up to them and getting your story out there in a positive way.

  6. I agree with Anonymous above ~ i predict its the designer or supplier (in M&S case, i assume supplier - as i can't see M&S having a team of designers creating specially for them..but i could be wrong)

    Similar has happened to me, not with a design but with a very well known photography piece of mine ~ which i was alert by a fan of my work. With my case, it was the website designer who had sourced my image online somewhere and used it in this particular Travel website.

    I myself freelance work as a graphic designer for various businesses here in Australia and overseas, and i am forever repeating myself to my clients about what they can and cannot use. Seriously, there are a whole lot of businesses out there (big and small) who are totally clueless in regards to copyright of images, designs, etc. This is ESPECIALLY more so within the fashion/clothing industry - where the copying of design/styles are rampant, and there doesn't seem to be any control of it.

    One example i go back to is when (Princess) Kate Middleton got married and her wedding dress was revealed, within hours there was copycat designs everywhere - available for sale.

    I am not sure why it is accept within these industries (fashion/clothing/shoes) - that they can go and 'shop' for trends/new styles at various countries and then make very slight modification to design (so that its not exact copy) and produce masses of it in China and then sell it in the shops elsewhere (UK, Australia, Europe, etc)

    I wish you all the best (and speedy resolution) and that your matter is acknowledged, and maybe even compensated adequately (especially if you have to pay for legal fees) ~ and that its a lesson for everyone out there. Kudos to all your supporters for watching your back too :)

  7. A company has a responsibility where they get their products from. As Rachael clearly stated, it took over two weeks for M&S to respond after she complained, so this is where the fault lies and Rachael clearly needs compensation for what her company has gone through.

    I am so sorry you have gone through this Rachael and I wish you and your team well, in your endeavours towards the right result for you.

  8. Amazing how this was partially handled by M& S over twitter too. Good luck with going all the way and yes. you should sue whoever the company is that manufactured the t shirts which were sold to M&S.

  9. Agree with Helen! I think the big amount of these shirts are traveling on the shelves around the globe. You really should pay attention which company copy your designs! Wish you luck and I really am pleased how M&S responded to your complaint!

  10. Thanks Rachael for being also an example of how to make others respect the work of independent designers (no matter how big the others are and how small we are - not your case 'cause you are already a successful designer). It's incredible that these things keep happening, and that big companies pretend to solve it all with an 'WE ARE SORRY'. Yesterday I kept reading what their representative said about the situation: 'we chose it in good faith'. Good faith my a$$!!! Sorry for the language, but it's serves well its point here! It's not possible that such a big company as M&S doesn't double check the legality of what they buy, and even more incredible that they didn't realize it was one of your SIGNATURE prints! C'mon! You are a big deal in the UK, and you've worked for them and for tigerprint... It's just their responsibility to know who's who now, and also to be sure that whatever they sell is original work or that the designer has actually granted its permission. That can't just now wash their hands saying they bought in 'good faith' from a supplier and to just expect to get rid of the problem by giving to you the supplier's contact info (which should also be punished for robbing you so blatantly) and a 'we are sorry'.

    You are absolutelyv right for wanting to take this matter all the way through. I wish you the best of luck (even I you don't need it because you are on the right side), and thank you again for showing us the way in so many paths! ^_^

    Keep us updated! :D

  11. Yay! Rachel good job on being an active participant in practicing respect and ethical treatment of art and design! I am sure this will go a long way in setting standards that will hopefully protect artists rights (and your artist rights too). Now, make lemonade and maybe you can design them some new patterns for a custom line that will fly off the shelves faster than the design that was used! Kudos to Marks & Spencer for their actions as well maybe you can find a way to work together.

  12. Well done Rachael. I was under the impresson that M&S do have some 'inhouse' designers, but I could be wrong. That is not particularly relevant here. M&S are COMPLETELY responsible for everything they sell & if it comes from a third party, they should check its source even more carefully. Sorry, no excuses are acceptable.

  13. Congratulations for standing your ground and fighting your corner! You are a true inspiration for all independent designers, this is a lesson that copyright laws cannot be ignored.

  14. Why kudos to Marks and Spencer? they took 2 and weeks to respond? Confused at the responses above? no compensation has been given to Rachael, as far as I am aware. Marks and Spencer are not the hero here! Rachael is for having the guts to speak out, and fight! when M&S perhaps thought she would go away.....

  15. 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.

  16. Brilliant statement Rachael, it expressses everything perfectly. You deserve so much respect for standing up for yourself and every other independent designer. I hope they do everything they should to rectify the awful behavior
    SUE X

  17. I was truly shocked when I heard the news about this terrible copy-cat attempt. It is appalling the way such a huge and prestigious company as M&S have let this happen and it is also terrible the way they have handled the situation. Just want to share my support for you Rachael, as a newly graduated textile designer I really respect and look up to you and think you have handled the situation professionally and with dignity.

  18. Rachael, just want you to know I think it's great that you are trying to stay calm, purposeful and assertive in the face of this challenging situation. You have such a wonderful core 'energy' of artful happiness.
    These things are really tough to plow through, but it's admirable that you have taken such professional, methodical steps to right an insult to your ethics. Good for you!! I feel bad that it happened, but maybe your example will guide other independent designers positively!
    May the outcome be that you get appropriate compensation!
    Take care,
    one of your grateful graduates :-)

  19. Given the timescale their public response does not strike me as professional. This is not the first case where the "big boys" hide behind an explanation that their supplier is at fault. This is just not good enough. I'm glad that you had the courage to go public on this as it will act as an encouragement to other designers not to let their work be copied either.

  20. Goodluck with taking this forward Rachael - good on you for taking a stand on this! x

  21. You are doing the right thing Rachael and we are all here to support you. Keep up your beautiful work x

  22. I am really sorry that this is happening to you! It's admirable to see how you take a stand and fight for your cause. You are fighting for all of us, for every independent designer! Thanks for this! I hope you will get good compensation … let us know!

  23. Daily Mirror ripped my photograph and story off. They won't even respond. Can't afford legal action, guess they do this sort of thing all the time so I'm glad someone is taking on the big companies. They need taking down a peg.

  24. Thanks Rachael for being courageous and brave to take on the big guns. Sorry this happened to you. How you handled this is a great lesson for all of us. What I do love is the strength and support of the design community...... The power of WE and US.

  25. Hi Rachael,
    This is so morally WRONG! May you get all you hope and dream for with the outcome, and more.
    You've been a fabulous teacher and you are setting a remarkable example.
    A big THANK YOU from all of us around the world, for the detailed lessons and talks you gave us on copyright, and for what you are doing now to stand your ground.
    One of your graduates in California...

  26. I'm sorry to everyone who thinks M&S is to blame here but you're wrong. A company like M&S cannot logistically or financially make copyright checks on every single thing they stock. Have any of you ever tried to do this? As they rightly state, it IS the supplier's fault here.

    Considering the fact that a lot of companies would simply ignore the issue altogether, I think two weeks isn't a bad time frame in which to respond. They did the right thing & took them off the shelves, which is more than most companies would do. They could quite easily have told her to take the issue up with the suppliers instead.

  27. comment above! They have known for over a month, been profiting from the sales. It is M&S responsibility, taking over two weeks to do anything, is unacceptable. People's comments on twitter shows just how wrong people feel m&s has been. It isn't just the supplier's responsibility either, it is M&S. But I agree they are both to blame.

  28. M&S are hiding behind a supplier, from Rachael's statement it is clear they were given the opportunity to do the right thing by removing the top immediately following the legal proceedings. Rachael became aware that the top was on sale from June the 9th. M&S have obviously made a profit on this! It is obviously a clean cut case here that Rachael will win, so they would have had to remove the top anyway. They are not the hero here! On the Click Liverpool article it quotes M&S as having said:

    "After investigating the complaint we immediately withdrew the product from sale."

    I did not realise that over 2 weeks was immediately! While shopping at my local Asda I spotted someone wearing this and it made me so angry! It seems M&S are trying to save face publicly, for example the above comment, which clearly does not address all the facts! I am glad Rachael is taking this all the way as it a 'win win' case anyway!

    The Click Liverpool article:

  29. I'm sorry but I do have to comment! Ok so M&S were selling something with a copyrighted pattern on, but are we really all naive enough to think they research every single design to make sure someone else hadn't done it first? I only have seen this as it popped up on facebook but I have never heard of this designer before so why should M&S have heard of her and automatically thought 'oh this is a designers work so best not buy it'!! They stopped it and in big business 2 weeks is pretty quick!!

    1. Rachael has had products in M&S in the past and currently has greeting cards in store, so how were they not aware of her? If you look at her website you will see clear evidence of this.

      Two weeks is not quick! They have been selling the top from early June, so is it OK for them to pocket the profit!???????? I've also found several cases on the internet where M&S have copied other designers! It seems to be their style, WOW! Why are you defending M&S? Perhaps you work for them and do not have a conscience? I wonder if M&S will do the right thing, they are profiting from this and it's morally wrong!

      Keep fighting M&S Rachael, they need to be told!

  30. I think 11.06pm Anonymous July 17th. It is you who is naive.
    What do you do for a living? Do you work for a high street store? Is this why you are Anonymous?

    M&S had Rachael work in their stores before so knowledge of this designer to them is known (as stated in Natalie comment above )
    And if you read what Rachael's Statement says she is upset because...

    "This is about the principle and the ownership of my own design that is used on many different products that I supply to my clients and shops. This design is one of my signature designs and I am recognised for this. After much deliberation (over the past month) I finally decided to go public with this as I knew I had to make a stand. It was my moral duty as a designer, teacher and creative writer."

    Rachael is only sticking up for herself...This is every person's right to protect their business.

    Go for it Rachael us designers are with you all the way!

  31. you should have a look at this website and add your story to it. lots of similar cases to yours.

  32. For any independent designers or business-owners interested, a bit of info. I posted to my law blog on Intellectual Property Rights.


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