Ubuntu Baba / Woolworths – who actually copied whom?

Everyone’s savaging Woolworths for copying Ubuntu Baba. Poor Woolworths! And, I’m not being facetious. I really mean: poor Woolworths. They only “copied” a “copy”. Is Ubuntu Baba new? No. Is it itself a “copy” of someone else’s infant carrier? Most likely. Is this bad? Not if making the copy is permitted – everyone copies someone; no-one develops in a “white box”. Don’t pillory Woolworths for making a legal copy. But if you’re idealistically bent on criticising large companies for being anti-small business, nail them for that, but not for copying.

Let’s clear up a few misconceptions:

  • it’s legal to make and sell a 100% copy of a product that’s not patented or design registered. But, if you make a copy of a baby carrier, we suggest that you don’t unstitch the panels and trace them – rather take a ruler to the assembled bag. You may even buy the original product for the purpose of copying it.
  • it’s legal to use a competing product’s name as a Google Adword. Just don’t use your competitor’s trademark or product brand name in your Ad copy / text.
  • if you, as a supplier, have made a retailer sign a confidentiality undertaking in respect of your product, and you thereafter sell your product, the confidentiality undertaking will not prevent the retailer from: buying your product; copying it; and selling the copy. The retailer just can’t use other secret information you disclosed that cannot be gleaned from product you’ve sold.
  • a capitalist system encourages people who can copy, make and sell unprotected products cheaper to do so. If you pricing is too high, you will be copied and undercut.
  • applying for a South African design registration is not difficult or expensive. You can do so in 5 minutes and for less than R2,750. Just take photos of your product and upload them to Iptica’s online filing system. Within a day, you’ll have an official design application number.

Returning to Ubuntu Baba: on her Website, Shannon McLaughlin writes “With my baby comfortably asleep on my chest, I could finally continue my journey of Motherhood with peace of mind.” … implying that strapping a baby to her chest was “new”. Well, it wasn’t – let’s play spot the difference with this sample of earlier front baby carriers that took less than 5 minutes to find:

In removing its infant carriers from the shelves, Woolworths didn’t succumb to the law. It succumbed to what a small vociferous sector on social medial wished the law to be.

Read further: Understanding Design Rights

(Article sourced from https://www.facebook.com/iptica/)

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