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Cape Town designer claims Woolworths stole her hummingbird design idea [comparison pics]
Posted by on Oct 21st, 2013

SA retail giant, Woolworths, is once again at the recieving end of allegations that it ripped off the idea of a Cape Town designer. Needless to say users of local social media sites lost their sh*t and jumped on the underdog vs corporate giant bandwagon. The accusations of plagiarism centre around the design of a hummingbird on cushion covers which designer Euodia Roets says she pitched to Woolworths for months before they declined her work. Soon after though she discovered cushion covers in Woolies stores that bare an uncanny resemblance to her design.

Here’s a side by side comparison of the hummingbird cushion covers Roets created and the ones Woolworths released.

roets hummingbird design

Mmmmm…given that Roets pitched her design and was in negotiations with Woolworths for months prior to being turned away, then the release of their own similar cushion covers it’s obvious what all the fuss is about hey. And the outcry is intensified by the previous Woolies incident where they were accused of ripping of Frankie’s vintage soft drink brand HERE.

Woolies however have responded to the Roets claims and released the following statement:

The use of birds and hummingbirds is a global trend which inspired our design. Images and photographs of hummingbirds in flight in a similar pose are common, hence the resemblance of the designs. It has inspired retailers all over the world, including South Africa. We commissioned a Durban artist to interpret this trend in August 2012 and signed off the design in November 2012 for our cushions which we developed as part of our summer range this year. We develop new cushions every summer. We saw Euodia Roets work at a market in January this year. We consider her a talented artist for which we are always on the look-out. We planned to include her work as part of our artisanal range which supports local artists. We viewed a wide range of her work, one of which was a hummingbird” [more HERE]

Ok so now if Woolies did indeed sign off on their hummingbird cushion at the end of 2012 and Roets was approached regarding her range in 2013 then as much as folks wanna back the underdog then what happens now.

Is it just a co-incidence? Or did Woolies have the idea for the hummingbird cushion and then deliberately approach someone who had a similar design to theirs in order to offer support?

You know..chicken before the egg type sh*t.

Roets also made some other claims in her blog post last Friday basically calling the situation “a case of thinly veiled plagiarism”.

“After doing a rather violent double take, I had a closer look. Same size cushion (60cm x 40cm)? Check. Near identical hummingbird design (with what looks like the Wikipedia entry on hummingbirds pasted into the background)? Check. Same fabric? Check.

And, conveniently, it was now part of the W Collection.

(Fun fact: If that text is in fact from Wikipedia, Wiki requires attribution on all commercial use of their text. You’d be correct in assuming Woolies did no such thing.)” [Touchee Feelee]

So what do you think?

UPDATE: seems some new evidence has been thrown into the mix to spice things up hey. Got set this also on Friday, but wasn’t sure.

The hummingbird image that Roets alleges Woolworths copied, is itself copied from a photograph by RW Scotts taken in 1997. And according to the Evidence and Reason website she was selling her prints for $25. Naughty naughty.

She has since updated her post to acknowledge that her prints are a copy of the Scott photo and has also stopped selling her prints.


As they say in Thailand…same same.

Read more on the Roets copy of Scott’s photo at 2oceansvibe HERE.

cleo says:
October 10, 2013 at 8:46 am

I am a designer & I have been ripped off before (no it wasn’t WW) so I am all for taking down a greedy Corporate company, but in this case I think all WW is guilty of here is bad ugly design .. Euodia Roets design looks far to similar to a R Scott one .. even down to the little blue feathers on the tail and the highlight above the eye. mmmmm??

I understand that it is upsetting to financially outlay for samples (been there, lost R5 000 on samples) to then have a company say “No Thanks” after all the effort and hopes. I think that a big step back needs to be taken & facts need to emerge before condemning the big bad corp wolf to a hanging at high noon.

but thats just my opinion.

Rene says:
October 10, 2013 at 8:46 am

I agree with cleo on this one. I don’t think she has a foot to stand on as she stole the image from someone else. At least WW changed their picture a bit, while hers is an exact copy.

They are probably just in the wrong with the Wiki text.

Mike says:
October 10, 2013 at 8:46 am

Obviously stealing is ethically wrong, but we all know Sa is ethically bankrupt, so I am tempted to say she should have taken more care.

However what I could criticize is the poor communication from WW in this regard.
Surely they should have taken more care in their communications to see that a rejected submitter was left with a neutral or positive flavor in their mouths.

This is not the first time and that blunder has cost WW dearly.
Fire the bum!

Cheri says:
October 10, 2013 at 8:46 am

The biggest question and the only question we have to ask is if Woolworths had already planned a hummingbird design into their buy before meeting with Roets, why did they still then pursue a hummingbird design with her and ask to keep her work???

October 10, 2013 at 8:46 am

Interesting to see what the outcome of this would be …

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