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“Shannon have you seen this?” I open my WhatsApp to read the message and see a screenshot of the baby carrier I designed being sold on Woolworths’ online shop. I can’t describe the feeling that went through my body in that moment.

It’s 16 December 2018 and I’ve just found out that Woolworths has shamelessly copied the complete design and concept of the baby carrier that I have put my heart and soul into for the last 4 years of my life.

At first glance, it looks like they’ve just used my product name ‘Stage 1’ and ‘Stage 2’ baby carrier. On closer inspection, I realize that they’re using the exact same colours, grey and navy to my baby carrier. Upon further investigation, it appears that they have designated the terms ‘Stage 1 carrier’ and ‘Stage 2 carrier’ as Google Adword keywords. So when you search the term ‘Stage 1 carrier’ or ‘Stage 2 carrier’ – the exact names which are unique to my little business – Ubuntu Baba baby carriers and in which my business has a reputation in – Woolworths adverts come up above my organic search results.

I’m so confused. Why would a big corporate go to such effort to try and copy my product and leverage off my marketing? This feels wrong on so many levels.

They are selling the carriers for 1/3 of the price that I sell mine – because of course they just have it made in China, while we manufacture ours locally in our little factory in Retreat.

This is my wonderful team, they come to work every day, Monday to Friday and make Ubuntu Baba baby carriers. We are proudly South African manufacturers, trying to make a difference by putting money back into the South African economy, instead of getting it made for a fraction of the price in China.

I can only imagine what Woolworths’ strategy might be:

Jane sees Angie wearing a comfy looking baby carrier.
“What carrier is that Angie?”
“Oh it’s the Stage 1 by Ubuntu Baba. You can get them online.”
Angie goes to Google and searches: ‘Stage 1 carrier’
“Ooh wow I see Woolworths is selling them for only R450.”
Woolworths gets a sale. Ubuntu Baba loses a sale.

I can’t sleep, the anxiety of this situation is killing me. What do I do? I’m all for Woolworths selling affordable, ergonomic baby carriers, and I’m glad my little business has ‘inspired’ them, but there is a big difference in taking inspiration and blatantly expropriating another’s product – the way they have gone about this is nothing less than wrong.

No. This can’t be. They have used my exact pattern.

I don’t know what the next step is but I feel an instinctive urge to get my hands on one of these carriers, so off I go to Woolworths to go and check it out.

Not only have they copied my ‘Stage 1’ and ‘Stage 2’ names, used my colours, designated Google Ad keywords to divert potential customers, Woolworths has also shamelessly copied my design and pattern.

Their shoulder straps are exactly the same as ours, all they’ve changed is the body section of the carrier, probably to make it easier for production in China, as there are quite a lot of intricacies involved with ours.

There is no other baby carrier in the world with a waistband pattern like my Stage 1 and Stage 2 carriers. My Father and I designed them from scratch in 2015. It took us weeks just to get that waistband right, and it’s arguably part of the reason why our baby carriers are so loved by many, because they are very gentle on a Mother’s healing c-section scar, yet still supportive enough for her to carry her baby from the very early newborn days.

Moreover, the ‘Stage 1’ and ‘Stage 2’ are unique to the Ubuntu Baba brand, with no other baby carrier brands, using the same, or similar, naming convention.

Coincidence? I think not.

I feel like I’m out of my league. I call an emergency meeting with my team, I need help on what to do next about this. One of the ladies on my team suggests searching our online order receipts to see if anyone from Woolworths Head Office has ever purchased one of our carriers and surprise, we find that an Ubuntu Baba Stage 2 carrier was purchased and delivered to Woolworths Head Office in June 2017.

Woolworths can surely not contend that they did not blatantly copy the design and concept of my carriers when the Ubuntu Baba Stage 2 carrier they purchased was delivered directly to a former Sourcing Administrator at the Woolworths Financial Services Building in Observatory.

Surely there is nothing suspicious in someone from Woolworths Head Office purchasing one of my carriers? Alas, this is not the case. In September 2017, the Woolworths Product Developer purchased our Stage 1 carrier, which subsequently was delivered to Woolworths Head Office in Longmarket street.

This is surely a very cruel joke? Right?

By this point, friends and business acquaintances had told me about the hummingbird story and the Frankie’s case (which Frankie’s won), and that apparently Woolworths’ ‘do this all the time’. Really? And they get away with it? Yes, apparently they do. Because it’s not often, in the real world, that young entrepreneurs are ready to take on a retail giant like Woolworths.

Of course, I have no evidence pointing to the fact that they ‘do this all the time’ as others have told me, but after all the effort gone to here, it’s honestly not too hard to believe.

I searched the topic online and found an article quoting their marketing and communications strategist, Clive Simpkins:

“Woolworths learned a pivotal lesson with that Frankie’s debacle and I don’t think they would have consciously gone and done the same thing again. They have made it quite clear that they have an incredible paper trail, they’ve got protocols in place, they’ve got all sorts of agreements with designers and artists and people like that, so they can go back and point to the timeline.”

If you’re confused, so are others.

As we are in the ‘babywearing industry’, it’s our job to be a part of many online Mommy and babywearing groups, where Mom’s go for advice on babywearing and reviews on different brands of baby carriers.

The amount of confusion that has already been caused by the Woolworths carriers, as well as their use of our names ‘Stage 1’ and ‘Stage 2’, is really concerning.

We’ve been asked whether we are now stocking our baby carriers in Woolworths and how Woolworths are able to sell them for so cheap compared to ours? (The answer to that is: manufactured in China + made with polyester VS manufactured in South Africa + made with organic hemp.)

My heart literally breaks every time another Mom posts a photograph in the babywearing groups, telling other Moms how comfortable the new Woolies Stage 2 carrier is and how well impressed she is with their design.

Dear Woolworths, that is my design.

The only reason it’s comfy, is because you blatantly copied my pattern. I have reached out to you via email, on 3 different email addresses I could find, but all I got back was a lousy response saying that you have forwarded my email on for further investigation and you gave me a reference number. I’ve phoned your customer service department and followed up with my reference number and apparently my complaint is now sitting with your technologist who will be investigating the query.

Meanwhile… people are buying baby carriers which have been designed by me and copied and sold by Woolworths, countrywide.

Potential safety risks of the Woolworths baby carriers

What makes this confusion so much more severe is the potential health and safety risks the Woolworths ‘Stage 1’ carriers pose in that it appears to conflict with recognized health and safety standards for baby carriers.

“Baby on your back is recommended for babies up to 6 months.” – This safety warning appearing on the packaging of the Woolworths carrier is misleading as it appears that it is recommended that you wear your baby on your back if he/she is under 6 months, instead of over 6 months. This is arguably an unsafe position as it is impossible to monitor a newborn baby when they are worn on your back in a buckled carrier and if left unmonitored, there is a risk that positional asphyxia can occur. Therefore, should, God forbid, an infant become hurt as a result of the unsafe directions of the Woolworths carrier, give the striking similarities between the two carriers, this poses a severe risk to the reputation of my business, which places the safety of babies above all else.

*Please note this is very different to how South African women often wrap their babies to their backs with a towel or woven piece of fabric and I am in no way comparing a back carry position in a buckled carrier to this form of babywearing.

“Recommended weight range for Woolworths Stage 1 carrier: 3.6 – 15kg.” – There is no possible way to safely wear a baby from the 3.6kg to at least 6kg range in the Woolworths Stage 1 carrier, because the seat is too wide and not adjustable (the Ubuntu Baba Stage 1 has a string that runs across the body allowing the wearer to narrow the seat for a newborn baby.)

This means that people will most likely try to wear a newborn baby and assume that they need to put the babies legs inside the carrier, creating another safety hazard as there is no infant insert sold with the carrier to keep the baby in place from the inside, making it a possibility that the baby could slip through the bottom of the waistband, see below photo where Ryan Reynolds made this mistake with his own baby in a different brand of baby carrier (he should have been using the infant insert in this case – I am merely using this picture to point out the possible safety hazard).

The day after I wrote this article, I happened to be at Canal Walk, taking my son to the movies, and spotted a Mother wearing her baby in the Woolworths Stage 1 carrier – with this exact thing happening, see pic below.

I wanted to approach this Mother and offer her some babywearing safety advice, but how do you approach a Mother and tell her that the way she is carrying her baby may be unsafe, without offending her? Especially when she bought the product from a trusted retailer like Woolworths.

The Woolworths Stage 1 and Stage 2 baby carriers threaten to tarnish the very foundations on which my brand is built, and will no doubt result in substantial damage to the reputation and income of my business.

For a company whose values include “helping local enterprises to grow, and contributing to a prosperous, secure future for our country”, Woolworths – I’d say you have some explaining to do. I understand that mistakes happen within a big company, and maybe you have some sort of explanation for how this all happened, if so I’d love to hear it.

As a South African manufacturer, we’d be happy to consider working together with Woolworths and ‘contribute to a prosperous, secure future for our country’ by manufacturing a local baby carrier option on your behalf.

I’d personally LOVE to see an ergonomic and safe baby carrier on the Woolies shelves, because I know how much of a difference babywearing can make, especially during those first few very tough months of bringing a baby into the world. That is, of course, why Ubuntu Baba exists.

So here’s my reference number, again: 20181224-380204207. Let me know when you’ve got some feedback for me.


  • Chenel Kruger says:

    I am absolutely shocked Shannon. I posted on their page and will see if they reply.

    • Ergo baby carrier says:

      I’m confused, the Ergo Baby carrier has been around for ages. How are either of them different. The Ergo was the original.

      • Curious says:

        I don’t generally comment on anything, but I searched the Ergo carrier and would love to know what the difference is?

      • Matt says:

        The style or type of carrier is not what is in question. The issue is with a specific design for this type of carrier being blatantly copied. I am a designer and it’s CLEAR AS DAY!! Woolworths is going to battle to deny this one!! As a product designer and local manufacturer this is absolutely horrifying to know that this can happen to a design that you have poured your heart, soul and funds into. Nevermind the other issues this presents when it comes to taking away local jobs and the safety hazards from not understanding why a product was designed in a certain way removing crucial safety features to save on manufacturing cost. This could completely destroy the Ubuntu baby brand for good if Something serious happens to a child.

        • Curious says:

          Referring to your second sentence..would her work not be a copy then of Ergo Baby Carrier. I think Woolworths is completely in the wrong for what they did though

          • Allison says:

            Every brand of a product has something that makes it unique. Woolworths has claimed the uniqueness of her product as their own.

      • Loren says:

        I own an Ergo baby carrier. The Ergo has a different waistband, different front panel style, and does not use “Stage 1” and “Stage 2,” but uses an infant insert. The fabric and buckles are also different. I’ve used many backpack baby carriers, and though they may look the same, it’s the small features and attention to detail that make all the difference when wearing a baby. Ubuntu Baba has the right to claim original design.

        • Sera says:

          After purchasing a glass bottle of wine I found small pieces of glass in the wine bottle and I ingested some of it because I only realized that there was pieces of glass in the bottle when I looked at the bottom of the glass bottle. The store manager hasn’t helped me in any way

    • Greg says:

      Is your design patented or copyrighted? How certain are you that your design is unique in the world?

    • A former classmate of mine from university experienced the same thing when ZARA was allegedly inspired by his design (I say allegedly because I dont want to be sued ~ but you can judge for yourself by viewing the following links) You definitely have a case. Take it to the papers, you’ll get a result much faster.

  • Danielle says:

    This is absolutely shocking Shannon! You need to fight. I saw them in Woolies today.

    Please can you make this shareable so we can circulate this and get it viral?

  • Neelofan says:

    This is really saddening and an awful way (to say the least) that you’ve had to go into the new year. I hope they reach out to you to try and resolve the unnecessary conflict which this has caused. I honestly purchase most of my things from Woolworths but if this is what they stand for, I am rethinking my choices and will have to scout around elsewhere to get the quality I am used to from them where groceries are concerned.

    Please keep us updated on this.

    Be strong mama, you’ve got this.

    Concerned Mama

  • Daleen says:

    No man!!! That is disgraceful :O
    Do you have a copy right on your designs? They didn’t even try to change it up, even using the same colours… That is just nasty of them!

  • Tamarin Keitzman says:

    Hi Shannon

    I am so terribly sorry this has happened to you. I hope that you are busy discussing strategy with a lawyer as you have a lot of proof and you will win. This is unacceptable and I am so sorry you are going through this.

    Strength to you and your team and I will be sure to spread the word.

    Kind regards,

    Tamarin Keitzman

  • Cara Lee McLaughlin says:

    Absolutely shocking!

  • Saadieqah says:

    Omw!!! This is beyond disgusting from woolworths. Can’t you make a case or approach them other way rather than email? Here you trying to make a living for yourself and people working with you and they come an steal your whole business I can’t with companies like that. All the best just pray to God that this get sorted.

    • Carol says:

      I have family who worked for Woolworths for 40 years..yes they do copy. Sue them…
      They are so finnicky about manufacturers sending goods that are slightly wrong but con people by stealing designs.double standard..
      I will not shop there.

  • Janita Brittz says:

    OMG this is so disgusting of Woolworths. Shame on them!! I’ll be happy to sign a petition or help you fight this in any way I can.

  • Azaan van Eeden says:

    Wow, this is just plain bullshit – I had stage one carrier and nothing compares to your product. I feel it’s a shame that big companies is getting away with this. Surely something : needs to be done. Have you patent your design?

  • Monique says:

    Can you not lay a complain on hello peter so long?? Maybe get some legal help? Any moms on your group with legal background??

  • Minette says:

    Shannon, this is absolutely disgusting. Shocking. Did you not have it patented at all? I totally believe in the original brand and absolutely brand sensitive, I will continue supporting you.

  • Annelie Schenck says:

    I am Shocked!!! I love Woolies., but this is a disgrace! Shame on you Woolworths!

  • Tara Haddon says:

    This is shocking!!!

  • Caylin Kirsten says:

    This is absolutely shocking! How embarrassing that Woolworths don’t have their own vision and innovative skills to create their own style carrier. No wonder local retailers are crashing around us. Lazy design and a super scaly approach ! So gross!

  • Jen says:

    Lets get a petition going

  • Diana Lewis says:

    Would love to share this far and wide! It’s very sad that this happened and it’s not surprising sadly!!!

  • Angel says:

    This is so disgusting of woolworths to do this to your amazing small business. I really feel for you and your team, im one person who would spend whatever amount for something as unique as your carriers and for me to then go find an exact same product at woolies where i know almost everybody will have it,it just breaks my heart,especially knowing that there isnt much i can do about it.

    This isnt surprising for me though,just shocking that they actually decided to do this to a small business.

    In recent months since around winter last year and during summer, i started seeing baby girl dresses and accessories that i pay a lot of money for at Monsoon baby&Angels Accessorize store in their store in canal walk. The first time i saw my baby girl backpack sold for 1/3 of what i paid for i stopped using it and went to Accessorize to get another one because i didnt want people assuming that mine was from woolies too. The dresses i buy for R1199 are being sold for R399. They use same colours too. I was so annoyed by woolworths because to me they just became a chinese shop that sells cheap counterfeits.

    I havent even purchased my groceries from them since i began seeing that behaviour in their canal walk store.
    Theyve tried sending me vouchers but i dont think im going back to support their misbehaviour.

    The people at woolworths who go around shopping for other businesses unique& beautiful products only to go and copy them and then sell them so much cheaper are just nasty.

  • Mike Schmidt says:

    Dear Shannon

    I was the owner of FRANKIES Soft Drinks when we beat Woolworths over this exact thing. It is absolutely unacceptable that they are once again involved in blatant plagiarism. You need to contact Bruce Whitfield on Radio 702. Mail me if you want to chat further.

    • Shannon Mary Mac says:

      Thank you for your support Mike, I will email you tomorrow.

      • Rene says:

        Hi Shannon

        Please contact me via mail soonest. I sent your story to our lawyer and asked him if he would like to get involved. He said yes. He is flying to UK tomorrow evening but happy to talk to you during the day.

      • Penelope says:

        Have you approached Woolworths personally ? I’m sure the management will take that buyer to task and maybe order their carriers from you in future or pay you a lump sum for the design.

      • We are going through the very same with Woolworths as we speak! They have imported rip-offs of our products that we manufacture locally, under cutting our pricing, and denying plagiarism. I think we should all stand together on this. Please email me.

      • Geraldine says:

        What’s shameful is that Woolies think they can just get away with it!

        Mike is right Shannon, you should get a hold of Bruce and Carte Blanche even for that matter. The more public exposure you have, damaging their reputation in the way they are tarnishing yours, the quicker you’ll get a response from their legal and PR teams.

        I hope this is all resolved soon for you. We love our carrier and your brand

  • Kirstin Kade says:

    I feel ill reading this – how shameful, disappointing, and downright disgusting of Woolworths. How are small, Proudly South African businesses meant to thrive when they copy their unique designs (which I can see you put in hours and hours developing yourself), make their products on the cheap, and then sell them without any shame.

  • Casey Jeanne says:

    Absolutely gobsmacked reading this blog at how such big retailers and large corporates think they can get away with copying young entrepreneurs work. It is just NOT on. Unbelievable!

  • Carmel says:

    Absolutely disgusting Woolworths! Always have supported your product and recommended far and wide!

  • Shameega says:

    Unbelievable!!! I am utterly disgusted!!

  • Nell-Mari says:

    Shannon I am so sorry that this happening to you.

  • Shane says:

    I can’t believe this!!!! I love buying from Woolies but i never thought they would sink this low! I am honestly disgusted because it is shameful and heartless. They just lost n customer #theyarereplaceable

  • Andre says:

    It’s not only Woolworths it’s all the retail stores that do it. The problem is not the retailer it’s the consumer that create the market. Consumers today that work in a local manufacturing business happily go out and buy a product import from other countries just to safe a few rands placing their own jobs at risk. I’m not saying that if you buy local it needs to be 3X the price that is also way out, a locally produced product should not be more than 25% of the imported one and should be better is quality which justifies the extra cost.

    • Cliff Pinto says:

      It’s not the same quality hemp products that Woolworths is using. They got it mass manufactured with cheaper materials, from basically the slave trade in China. Hence the massive price difference.

  • Roxanne Bezuidenhout says:

    Absolutely terrible!! Really hope this gets resolved. If there is anything we can do as your customers please let me know. X

  • Christine says:

    Totally unacceptable. I sincerely hope you are talking to a lawyer. If you need help financially, let’s crowdfund. I’m sure there are more than a few people who will support you in this. Corporate greed and blatant ripping off of your design which potentially could put you out of business is just unacceptable. Do not let this stand!

  • Melanie Dijkhuizen says:

    This is absolutely disgusting Woolies!!! They should not be allowed to get away with something like this!!! You have worked so hard to create such an amazing, comfortable and safe baby carrier and what they have done is copy your design minus the safety!!! This is wrong on so many levels!! I’m so sorry this has happened and I really hope they respond soon and take theirs off their shelves ASAP!

  • Lisa Shaw says:

    I’m truly sorry this has happened to you. It’s absolutely appaling that a huge retail giant like Woolworths can take advantage of a local entrepreneur like you.

    As an entrepreneur in the baby industry too I really hope you get some answers and that Woolworths can somehow make this right!

  • Lisa Fabing says:

    This makes me SO SAD! Fight Shannon, fight. You have so many Ubuntu baba supporters whom I know will stand by you. I’m so sorry about this. Good on you for keeping on their case!!!

  • Tessa Perrett says:

    Absolutely disgusting behavior. They spend millions trying to convince us that they are proudly South African and here to help the people but really they are only about the bottom line and don’t care about local entrepreneurs at all. Please crowd fund if necessary as I’d happily help you sue them and expose their true colours.

  • Amy Smorenburg says:

    This is OUTRAGEOUS! Woolworths must be held accountable. The evidence you have against them is damning. I truly hope you take them on and win the case!

  • Mari says:

    I’m so sad to read this and feel so cheated by Woolworths. They promote this good business ethos and say they support the local economy, but in reality they steal product designs and disregard local entrepreneurs/ designers just to make more money! Instead of developing new and better products for and with the South Africa market they copy ideas and manufacture abroad. I can’t believe they did this again after the Hummingbird cushions and Frankies gingerbeer design was stolen.

    You saw a gap in the South African market and spent hours on research, prototypes and product development of your unique product. Ubuntu baba might be more expensive, but is far better quality, design and made locally! See a laywer and fight this. Ubuntu baba can win. Your community is behind you.

  • Elani Joubert says:

    Hi Shannon! So sorry and sad to read this story! Get a good lawyer! Do not let them get away with it.

    Sharing this on social media! Lets add more pressure as South Africans to keep these corporates accountable.

    Keep us updated!


  • Linzi says:

    I am utterly appalled to say the least. I have PROUDLY bought a Stage 1 & 2 ORIGINAL UBUNTU BABA and would like to see Woolworths held accountable for this betrayal to a proudly South Africa brand. I got your back Shannon xx

  • Tapiwa says:

    This just made me feel so angry, shame on Woolworths… Making this viral

  • Symone Sa’Couto says:

    Hi there

    I’m sorry to hear about all this and would love to help with the legal side should you require any assistance. I’m passionate about child safety and am saddened to see how this can impact a local business. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like some help- in any way.

    Kind regards

    Symone Sa’Couto

  • Candice says:

    I’m in complete shock, and feel sick to my stomach that this has happened. I seriously feel like boycotting Woolworth altogether if they don’t make this right. I feel quite passionate about your beautiful brand, it’s use of natural fabrics, and that it is locally made. We are % behind you Ubuntu Baba!

  • Hanlie Connan says:

    Hi there,

    I know of another small business where one of their products was blatantly copied by Woolworths. They fought it and got offered a payout. Definitely stand your ground and take it further.

  • Aurelie says:

    This is shocking and disgusting!

  • Gabrielle says:

    So sorry this has happened to you. I am a huge fan of your product, on my stage two carrier with babe now. Just moved to Sydney and made a friend because she recognized the carrier. I hope this trouble that woolies had caused will somehow bring more business and awareness your way. Xx

  • Jason says:

    This is soo disgusting. I have had similar incident with different company.

    Do you have patent on the idea?

    If not then it’s going to be extremely difficult to fight this..If you do have a patent then just get a good lawyer and fight it.

  • Peter says:

    Was your design patterned ?

  • Ingrid Romyn says:

    Absolutely disgusting!

  • Arlette de Jager says:

    Overall Woolworths has deteriorated to a miserable shopping experience. Empty shelves, pre pared meals are not consistent and flavors are different every time, their clothes are not relevant across all ages.
    I’m disgusted by their blatant copying of your design. They should be taken to task and then remove the copies of your product. Start a petition and there will be many who will sign it. You layed your story out clearly and well written. I hope you get a resolution. Good luck

  • Lisa says:

    As terrible as it seems this is consumerism and unless you have patented your design or trademark it really isn’t yours. If so valuable I would’ve imagined that you would’ve legally protected yourselves. In the states this happens all the time. It’s about getting it cheaper and selling more volume. Hopefully your market that wants the hemp product will still buy from you and you can now market it Witt your key differentiators.
    Sorry this has happened but if it wasn’t Woolworth’s it would’ve been someone else.

    • Elviera says:

      Yes and no. There will be enough web logs and paper trails that indicate who released it first.

      • Greg Scholtz says:

        If no copyright was infringed, no law was broken.
        Watch Mr Price bring out theirs at a fraction of the price.
        Expensive lesson, but a lesson well learned.
        If future is you have an idea, Patent It!!

  • If you don’t hear back it’s time for a legal route with loss of income. I think your evidence is crystal clear.

  • Elviera says:

    What!? That’s insane! I shared your article and you MUST fight back!!! This is not on!

  • Ro says:

    Ask a famous mommy blogger like Cindy Alfino to post it on her social media on a YouTube video and link to this post, and also start a petition, and add the link to the petition here too? Good luck!

  • Khadija Fakir says:

    This is so sad. I am shocked and appalled.

  • Cliff Pinto says:

    One question….

    Did you patent or trademark the design?
    If not, you’re going to have a very hard time fighting this. Although to your credit, you do have a time line of when you started the design work and proof of Woolworths employees purchasing your product for copying purposes (another fact you will need to prove).

    I honestly feel bad for you. Hoping Woolworths step up and do the right thing.

  • Michelle says:

    So sorry to hear this Shanon. I’m quite a loyal Woolies shopper and will stand against this behavior by switching supermarkets until this has been resolved. May I suggest (if you haven’t already):
    1) emailing directly the employee who made the purchase
    2) through our collective social media contacts, attempting to reach a procurement executive at Woolies who can formally respond to you
    3) let your supporters know how we can make a small financial contribution to your legal costs so that you can take on the fight. If thousands of people stand by you, our collective small contributions will be sufficient.

    Good luck.

  • Michelle says:

    So sorry to hear this Shanon. I’m quite a loyal Woolies shopper and will stand against this behavior by switching supermarkets until this has been resolved. May I suggest (if you haven’t already):
    1) emailing directly the employee who made the purchase
    2) through our collective social media contacts, attempting to reach a procurement executive at Woolies who can formally respond to you
    3) let your supporters know how we can make a small financial contribution to your legal costs so twshat you can take on the fight. If thousands of people stand by you, our collective small contributions will be sufficient.

    Good luck.

  • Leon Hall says:

    I have one word for you: CHINA

  • Timothy van der Berg says:

    How disgraceful Woolworths.
    Surely one of the large legal companies will assist you in fighting this.
    Get hold of Frankies and find out who represented them and take Woolworths to the cleaners.
    Good luck will scale down my support to Woolworths until we hear more.

  • Rene says:

    I’m going to post this on every group I belong to, consider starting a gofundme for legal fees and petition to boycott Woolies.

  • Pauline says:

    Surely you can sue them for this! It’s stealing!

  • Sam says:

    Did you patent your product?

  • Chanel says:

    HI Shannon, my heart breaks for you for having this happen to you. Ubuntu Baba is the best and I am shocked at what Woolworths did. Do they have no shame ? Will definitely share this on all my social media platforms.

  • Jessica says:

    Wow. I am at a loss for words. I’m sorry this is happening and I do hope you get some justice.

    When you search for the stage 1 carrier over seas Ubuntu does come up as first option and Woolworths isn’t really flagged so that’s kudos to your company.

    All the best

  • Kerri May says:

    It is nauseating to know the lengths of greed a large retailer like Woolworths will go too, too increase their top line growth!
    I stand by Ubuntu Baba
    #supportsmallbusiness #supportlocaldesigners

  • Vincent says:

    Got hold of a patent attorney and sue them. You are protected by intellectual rights under the SA law even if you don’t have an official patent. The fact that they haven’t even changed more that 10% of the design shows a clear intellectual rights violation. If it was “designed” in China and imported by Woolworth’s, you can apply for a ban on them selling the design in their stores – or sue them for royalties and you are at least compensated for their sales

  • Sharon Tabraham says:

    Absolutely unacceptable. This is the lowest of low. With all their boasting and assurances of the “wonderful” things they are doing to save the planet etc and then to stoop to this level! Woolworths you are a shame and a disgrace to this country!

  • So sick and tired of Woolworths. Corporate bullies. Shannon your product is incredible and we will support you all the way. I’m not a mom but I have lots of friends who use your carrier and they are all in awe of it.

  • Michelle says:

    Shannon I am disgusted by Woolworths! I will share this far and wide! People must know the lengths Woolworths is willing to go to crush a small business!

  • Iain Mac Donald says:

    So unfair & disheartening. Unethical, Immoral Greedy Pigs.
    ‘Frankie’s’ & ‘Bukhara’
    My small business also got well screwed some years ago.
    ‘Invited’ to help WW come up with a solution.
    – Consultations & meetings & briefs & developments & prototype after prototypes &
    sample after sample. Incredible timeous use of resource.
    – It turns out that every single development,revision,etc – was immediately photographed,measured,detailed, & given to our opposition – who duly produced it for WW en masse.
    Even the final prototype ended up in the opposition factory!

    Be very careful folks!

    I do think Vincent’s suggestion above seems pretty decent.

  • Hanno Bekker says:

    Hi Shannon,

    I am an Attorney that are based in Bloemfontein and whose wife is an absolute Baby wearing advocate (we have 6 different carriers) so I know a bit about the industry. We also specialize in Corporate Matters and can bring that to the case as well.

    I do however understand that you are not based in the Free State and as such it might be better to get an Attorney that is closer to you, if you wish me to assist you in getting an Attorney that is closer to you and that I know will do a good job send me your details and I will get in touch with you.

  • Mbali says:

    Oohh wow this is not the first that am hearing such about Woolworths.Something really needs to be done,coz they are hurting small businesses.This is uncalled for,We will do anything to support you dear..

  • Ingrid says:

    Woolworths, I’m shocked and appalled! As a small business owner myself I know how difficult it is to run a financially viable business. ‘Big businesses’ are able to undercut prices by producing items on mass and in China. All we have our our ideas to set us apart. Unacceptable.

  • jess says:

    Hi Shannon

    As an avid babywearer of all four of my children as well as proudly South African, I am behind you. I shall take my (very minor) purchasing power elsewhere and shall no longer shop in Woolworths in honour of you.
    The sad reality is that it isn’t just Woolies, I know of a young SA designer who ran onto the same issue with his wooden breadboards stolen by another large SA homeware company.
    All the best

  • Lurix says:

    They did the exact same thing with another designers Hummingbird design on their pillows.

    This is so disappointing.

  • Hayley says:

    Hi Shannon,

    This is absolutely disgraceful and I am so sorry for you. Please let me know how I can help you fight this – petition, fund raising, social media etc. I am also going to write to Woolworths and will keep you updated on their response. They should be absolutely ashamed of themselves!

    Hang in there – you have South African mommies behind you, and we will support and help you all we can!


  • Jolene says:

    This is such terrible news! Is there any way that you can register your design as a patent or such, then you could perhaps have more clout?

  • Caitlin O’Riley says:

    This is effing bullshit man! Woolies actions often clash with their so called ethos. I hope some retribution is achieved out of this!!! Please keep us updated. And in the meanwhile I think you need to talk to a patent attorney.

  • Jeanine says:

    Surly there must be some recourse. There must be some legal channels that can be followed. How sad to hear Woolies is taking away business from the local market.

  • Blatant stealing of your design… No words to describe my utter disappointment at such an unethical and dishonest action. I hope that this case goes straight to the top and that you are justifiably compensated.

  • Lara says:

    Wish I could say this surprises me but this is one of the major reasons I have not set foot in a Woolworths (food or clothes) for more than 5 or 6 years already. I refuse to support them. They won’t see my bucks ever again.

  • Telri says:

    This is not good for South African makers. You need all the support you can get and then a big company with tons of money swoops in and claims your market. I would suggest a crowd funding campaign to collect money to battle this out in the courts.

  • Dave says:

    Well done, Woolworths,
    Another class move by our “proudly South African” corporate retailer that spends so much of its time and money telling us how wonderfully ethical and caring they are…

    Time for the buyers in the Woolies Baby and Home Departments to spend less of their office hours Google’ing local designers and products to knock-off and maybe actually do their jobs and come up with some original corporate designs that people actually want to buy when next popping in to a W store to fill their trolleys with Chuckles and R49 sarmies, whilst ensuring to swipe their MySchool cards!

  • Helen BW says:

    Come in Woolies, we expect better behaviour than this. I will be posting to a larger group of South African mums based in the UK made up of over 8,000 members. This story is out, will be talked about and we’ll be watching closely on the outcome

  • Candice says:

    What a disgrace you are woolworths. Firstly copying this brilliant and hardworking entraprenuers idea and then taking food out her and her staffs families mouths. You should be ashamed and disgusted with yourselves. What shameful behaviour.
    I will gladly sign your petition. They did this to another designer who designed cushions.
    You need to stand up and fight this you have our support.

  • Hi Shannon. Empathy. Awful situation.
    Just to clarify, I’m an independent Marketing, Communications and Reputation Strategist. Since 1986.
    Have never, ever done work for Woolies.
    The excerpt you quote would have been me reprising what their then Food MD, Zelda Rylands, had to say in response to the Frankie’s debacle.
    Hope you get to a successful resolution.

  • Stuart says:

    I am really angered by this. Woolworths have lost a customer and I hope you get due compensation for this theft.

  • Anje says:

    Dear Ubuntu baba

    I am shocked!! And I am sorry that you have fallen victim of a corporate bully.
    I sincerely hope you can get a law team that can back you and sue the …. of of Woolworths SA.

    I will do my best to educate people to support local and to get the word out there of your injustice.

    PLEASE keep us updated, we have your back 100%

  • Moheni says:

    So sad wollies… You can never copy something so beautifully designed and home grown.

  • This is absolutely appalling!! Ubuntu Baba, we are very upset and angry on your behalf!

    We at Mia Melange are also proudly South African manufacturers trying to make a difference by empowering and creating employment opportunities in South Africa and supporting and growing our local economy. Of course products like yours and ours are going to be more expensive than mass produced products of a lower quality from China. It is beyond frustrating when large corporations produce similar products at a fraction of the price. With yours, they clearly copied your design exactly!! We sympathise with you, as we know how much work goes into training and building a team of South Africans, as well as generating sales to support your business. We really hope you will receive compensation for this!

    We also received an online order from someone at Woolworths last year!! And since then, a product very similar to ours is available from Woolworths!! And I checked the LinkedIn account of the person who ordered it – and she was also a product developer!

    As a proud South African, I support local manufacturers wherever I can. Even if the price is more – because the quality is usually better, and I know that local manufacturers create employment opportunities in South Africa. Small business are the future of our economy! It is our hope that all South African consumers start only buying locally made products!

    We wish you the very best ahead and may your business boom, may you continue to up-skill South Africans, and may you continue creating employment opportunties that support many families!

    Sending love from our whole Mia Melange team

  • Tracy Key says:

    This is absolutely outrageous! Please don’t let them get away with this!

  • Friend, I’ve read this over and over and I can not believe what they did. It’s horrible. So disappointed in Woolworths – UB does not deserve this!

  • Ursula says:

    I see Woolworthshave taken the carrier off their online store.

    • Amelia says:

      This is very interesting?????

      Just checked and YES, “NO PRODUCT ITEM is available for product with this Id”

      I had done a Google search for “woolworths stage 1 carrier” and the first item in the search “Natural Form Baby Carrier Stage 1 (3.6kg – 15kg) |” I clicked on it :


      Its not there, all of a sudden?

      We have not been buying from Woolies food for several months now, that will be extended to the rest of what Woolies retail have to offer.

  • Gerhard says:

    i am likewise shocked. to the extreme. i have the utmost respect for a person who has the courage to design, make and market an item. And the extreme opposite for anyone who steals the intellectual property. it is a sad, sad day when that happens. The more so if you now have to incur the legal costs to charge them. My sincere good wishes. i think we all have the ability to make choices — and it is a sad day that someone in such a big company can think ‘this is a good thing to do’. I despise such lack of ethics.

  • Dear Shannon

    Very sorry to hear this. Even though it’s happened before, it is still shocking to read about this kind of corporate behaviour from a company that positions itself as caring, considerate & concerned. Wishing you strength and success for the battle ahead.

  • Janine Blench says:

    I’d gladly sign a petition. Sending you strength, absolutely horrified for you

  • Hilary says:

    HI – Take this to Carte Blanche ! Its shocking – we are the local community will support you !

  • Christine says:

    I agree! Take it to Carte Blanche.

  • claire says:

    This is shocking and has made news headlines and I even heard about it on the radio today, do you have a patent for your product? wasn’t there a similar fight/inquiry about Nula baby carriers a while ago ?

    I love to support local businesses and feel that its not right for anyone to steal anyone else’s ideas and designs, the problem with small business owners is often we aren’t aware of how to protect ourselves and often there are things we need to patent or register.

    I hope you win your fight with the big corporate blood sucking giants.

  • Mariam says:

    Dear Shannon,

    Just here to show you some support.

  • Ryan says:

    This is shocking. Those at Woolworths responsible should hang their heads in shame. You should consider crowdfunding for your legal expenses.

  • Veronique says:

    It’s just not on! Woolworths you are destroying small business in this country! #EpicFail

  • Jacyntha says:

    Thank you for your commitment to a wonderful product and your commitment to employment in South Africa. We need more entrepreneurs like you. I will be buying my next baby carrier from UB for sure and will advise other moms to do the same.

    Also, thanks for the safety tips for infant carrying. As a parent you feel so lost and doubtful as to whether you’re doing things right. I think you should approach any mom who needs advise on safety – I would – because it’s better to be that interfering, crazy lady than a baby being injured or worse.

  • Francoin says:

    They also copied a bread bin by
    Shamelessly copied…

  • NADIA says:

    I am outraged! This is not the first time I have heard about WW doing this. Do not allow WW to get away with this.

  • Son says:


    What is that reference number for in your article?

    You need some legal advice ASAP!!!

  • Phil Lombard says:

    Hi Shannon

    I would like to help you with your troubles against Woolworths. I’m an attorney and owner of the online law consultancy NoxChase. At the very least I would like to post your story on our Facebook page, link below, which has over 1800 followers.

    If anybody else has copyright issues with Woolworths, please contact our Facebook page.

    Hope to hear from you.

  • WLHM says:

    If you have registered a patent your should take legal action against Woolworths. If not don’t complain.
    All successful ideas will eventually be copied and manufactured and distributed by other manufacturers and

  • Andy says:

    I see that Woolworths have removed the carriers from their website – this would be the first move by their PR department to reduce evidence and risk. It’s a disappointing first move, given that they are yet to acknowledge the situation publicly but a clear show of their panic and probable rallying around internally with their own lawyers to come up with a convincing response. Good thing you got some screenshots ahead of their actions.

    Having dealt with their PR Head in another matter, they are very quick to lash out at suppliers who jeopardise their own reputation so do not hesitate to give them a taste of their own medicine. Good luck – having the majority of moms across South Africa on your side should provide some weight, given that we are their key target market! They will try and make this go away quietly – that will just emphasize their guilt so don’t let them bully you into a pathetic settlement!

  • kate says:

    this makes me so sad and disappointed. hope you get some recourse xx

  • Jeannine Orzechowski says:

    Have you tagged Clive Simpkins on Twitter? Would love to see his response.

  • Andrew says:

    As someone who has had first hand experience of this shameless tactic by Woolworths I’m deeply angered and incensed that this organization – which promotes itself as a paragon of virtue – continues to stoop so low. I feel the indignity suffered by Ubuntu Baba and Shannon McLaughlin. When WW blatantly copied and passed off one of my CAPESTORM jackets (circa 10 years ago) and had it knocked off in China I took the fight to a press conference and demanded an answer from the Woolworths CEO at the time. It caused tremendous embarrassment to the executive and I was frog-marched by security from the Woolworths head office. SACTWU rallied to my support and Woolworths received a bloody nose and gave me an undertaking but no compensation. I think it’s time the small people stood up to corporate bullies and civil society should too. By accepting this behavior, as consumers, we all become complicit. It’s simply wrong at so many levels. I would hope that CEO Ian Moir will have the balls to stick his head above the parapet and do something to end this nonsense once and for all. Fight the injustice the whole way!! Good luck. Regards, Andrew

  • Norman says:

    I stopped buying from WW long ago.
    Their product quality has gradually fallen to the same low as their ethical standards.
    I’ll happily contribute to any legal costs.
    Just don’t give up. Fight the fight on behalf of all small businesses that are raped by the corporates.

  • Dianne says:

    I’m sure all moms can agree with me that we will stand by your side and not buy this product from Woolworths!!! Please let us know how we can help? Petition? Or better yet the people who are against this, raise posters and go into each store until they remove every single one. This is totally unacceptable. I am starting up my smal business (different industry), I would be devastated! I’m so sorry!

  • Nombulelo says:

    OMG, please expose them. Get a good lawyer. You have enough evidence.

  • Taryn says:

    Have you applied to patent your product? If not, you should seriously look into it.

  • Also-a-work-for-myself-mommy says:

    I am really sorry this happened to you.

    I hope all the mommies who have bought this product returns it!!!! It is the right thing to do and also considering the risks that these pose…

    Do the right thing and return them to Woolworths.

  • Sue Minnaar says:

    Absolutely shocked to read this. I had such a minor breach from a big company a while ago and can clearly remember the feeling of numb disbelief when I saw something of mine on their website. Can only imagine how you feel. I think you should crowd fund the legal fees if you can’t take them on. Let the little guys stick together.

  • Kilaan says:

    Hi Shannon,

    When I read this I immediately thought of the Frankie’s case. Woolworths do this all the time, they rip off tested products brought out by small entrepreneurs.

    Please can you bring this to the attention of Bruce Whitfield who does the money show on 702. It’s SA’s most listened to podcast and he will go right up to ceo level to get to the bottom of this and in the meantime Woolworths will be shamed, again. He did that in the Frankie’s case and ripped into them. If your case has merit, Bruce will back you on air. Woolworths lost a lot of credibility that time. Please do it…I’ll be listening!!;)


  • Pat says:

    Shame on you Woolworths – Going like this country – China here we come !!!

  • Anri says:

    I so do not approve of what woolies did. But let me tell you something I have learned as artist. If you design or create something like this you need to register it either by putting a a copyright or trademark on it. Otherwise anyone can copy it. Whether you designed it or not. Unfortunately if you did not have registered trademark or copyright you you can’t even te to legally bind them to op theft basically. It sucks I have also been the subject of corporate company’s sterling ideas and concept. Good Luck Babe. Comfort yourself knowing you have a superior product and I have found that people support you regardless.

  • KarenB says:

    This is truly sad, I do not have a baby but I have seen mommy’s on my IG post about your amazing product. I will most likely not be supporting Woolies going forward unless they make this right by you.

  • steve says:

    Wow Shannon, this is an absolute shocker! Well done for your grace in writing the article, i think it really helps your business and personal brand. As for woolworths, i doubt the coming PR storm will really change anything, and i sadly doubt many people are actually going to put their principals above their convenience. I hope you are able to overcome the disappointment and betrayal of your product being copied, and find a way to inspire and highlight small businesses over large faceless corporations, and I hope you can leverage any publicity to your benefit as a designer, public figure and activist.

  • Ola says:

    Woolworth, it’s heartbreaking to steal another’s idea simply because you think you’re a brand with very deep pocket. This behaviour is an unethical business practice and is capable of destroying Woolworths if not carefully resolved.

    As a certified inventor, I know how terrible the originator of Ubuntu Baba would have felt about this theft of her idea. Like the inventor of PLEASE CALL ME who fought a 13years lawsuit against Vodacom and won the lawsuit at the Constitutional Court in April 2016 even though Vodacom shamefully is yet to pay Kenneth Nkosana Makate. I also took MTN to court over the theft of my idea and since 2009 I’m still looking for justice at the South Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) since 2009 and I believe justice will be served because delay is not denial.

    Stealing of ideas from small entrepreneurs has a negative impact on economic development and economic growth, which also has a ripple effect on job creation.

    Woolworths should not wait to be publicly embarrassed and disgraced like Vodacom and MTN are currently undergoing by taking a decisive step to do what is ethically right in favor of the creator of Ubuntu Baba.

    Shannon Mary Mac, never give up on your idea! Fight Woolworths for your right and you can contact Advocate Cedric Puckrin for legal assistance if need be. He is the best on such matter in South Africa. He assisted Kenneth Nkosana Makate, the creator of PLEASE CALL ME, to win his 13years lawsuit against Vodacom!

    Go for your right Shannon! You deserve it!

  • zuzana says:

    same here! i am sorry but this is not fair!!! huge corporates get richer, and small businessess like yours pay for this! Sies woolworths, really shameful of you!

  • Brigitte le Roux says:

    I am so sorry to hear this. You have our full support. Is there not a way to address this legally? Surely they cannot do this??

  • Rosa says:

    This is awful! So sorry to hear of your difficulty! Have you tried exposing them by tweeting at them daily all the similarities in the product? Might work! Sending positivity and strength 🙂

  • Nicolene says:

    I’m utterly disgusted by the thought of Woolworths coming into our happy little community of Babywearing moms and steal from one of our own. It almost feels as if Woolworths has done personal harm to me. Babywearing lies so deeply rooted into my being. We are happy to share, but never ever will we be happy when unethical behavior is displayed. Woolworths come out from hiding and come fix this filthy mess please

  • Bianca Noble says:

    And this from the ‘ proudly south african’ company? Sies Woolworths !


    to pressoffice

    I am a freelance journalist writing for numerous publications (Sunday Times, Wanted, Business Day, Hosue and Leisure) and I would like feedback on the Ubuntu Baba baby carrier accusation detailed below.

    I look forward to hearing from you

    Dr Jonathan Cane

    Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
    University of the Witwatersrand,Johannesburg
    071 157 5844 / / Skype jonathancane

    15:24 (1 minute ago)
    to me

    Hi Jonathan,

    Thanks for your email, we have just released the following statement:

    We are taking this allegation extremely seriously and believe it wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss the issue publicly before chatting to Ubuntu Baba first. We have a meeting scheduled with Shannon tomorrow to discuss the matter.


    to pressoffice

    I am a freelance journalist writing for numerous publications (Sunday Times, Wanted, Business Day, Hosue and Leisure) and I would like feedback on the Ubuntu Baba baby carrier accusation detailed below.

    I look forward to hearing from you

    Dr Jonathan Cane

    Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

    15:24 (1 minute ago)
    to me

    Hi Jonathan,

    Thanks for your email, we have just released the following statement:

    We are taking this allegation extremely seriously and believe it wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss the issue publicly before chatting to Ubuntu Baba first. We have a meeting scheduled with Shannon tomorrow to discuss the matter.

  • Yvette Mayhew says:

    Hi Shannon,

    So sorry to hear about this. If your product is trademarked and a registered patent surely you have legal rights to take them to court?

  • Ant says:

    What Neelofan (Be strong mama, you’ve got this.) and Andrew said…

    1) I urge anyone who has bought a Woolies one to return them. Not cause you have to, but because you want to.
    2) First things first, but run a BackaBuddy campaign if you need to raise some legal fees. I’m in for R500.

  • Sbongile Zondi says:

    So so so disappointed at Woolworths for this!
    I can’t even bare to look their way right now. This is so wrong.

  • Christine says:

    Tak e tipe car to a badass clever lawyer !

  • Stacey says:

    Funny enough, you cant find the carrier on their site after your chat on 702 this morning. Hope this means you are being heard! Good luck!

  • Lara says:

    Hi Shannon, what an awful experience for you! I recently listened to an interview with Jo Tutchner-Sharp from Scamp & Dude in the UK and she had this same thing happen to her by a big brand. She appealed to small businesses that had experienced this to contact her as she has dealt with this twice and knows the correct channels to follow. In both cases she won her cases and they had to remove those particular ‘copied’ products from their range. The interview was on the ‘conversations of inspiration’ podcast with Holly Tucker and it was Number 11. You may already know how to tackle this but thought I’d share in case this info can be helpful in any way? All the best!

  • Helene says:

    It’s not enough to do social shaming. If they’re at fault, they need to officially be held accountable. Do you want them to remove the item from their stores? To pay you back for lost income? Are your products trademarked? Social shaming might feel gratifying, but it won’t help your business. Get an official response from them, if not to your satisfaction, go to a lawyer and find out what your rights are (if you haven’t trademarked your design). Take that to Woolworths. If they still don’t respond to your liking, go to Cape Talk. This is a perfect case for them to pursue, but they will ask “What have you tried / done to date” so you better have an answer. But go through the avenues that can actually make them change their behaviour if this is something they regularly do.

  • Nontozanele says:

    I bought the Woolies one for my baby… I could nt understand how was I supposed to carry a 6 weeks old baby with it, my baby’s weight was around 5kg but he would slip whenever I am carrying him with it I had to keep on adjusting. At times I would feel that it also too tight on his knees.

  • HB says:

    Obviously if the product is patended he will be able to sue Woolworths.

    • Ola says:

      It’s not compulsory to patent an idea before filing for litigation so far you have electronic record of when you first started working on the idea. That’s enough proof needed in Court.

  • Hesta Holtzhausen says:

    Dear shannon

    What happened to you and your team breaks my heart

    People who elbow their way to the top are like a joke without a punchline. I have so much faith in ubuntu baba regardless of the corrupt people in this world.

    Appart from the the amazing quality of ubuntu baba..your product still offers something that separates it from all the other carriers..t’s the heart behind the carrier that simply can not be copied. You can feel every time you carry your baba in the u ubuntu and our babas feel it too.

    Will keep you and your team in my prayers

    “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied.

  • Brenda Kganyago says:

    Hi Shannon,

    I’m appalled, dismayed and very disappointed by what Woolworths is doing to your business and I’m in complete agreement with Neelofan about boycotting Woolies including their food store. That’s the only way they’ll feel what you, your business and your employees are experiencing as a result of their actions!!!

    I pray for you to win this battle of your hard working being stolen so shamelessly!

  • Khanyi says:

    I wanted to buy this fron Woolies for my boy and I have bern longing for it because it looks comfortable and looks like i can breastfeed with it(as it states on the insert) but I am NOT going to buy it.

    I know I simply cannot afford the Ubuntu one but for everything right in the world I will not partake in the shameless and thievery that Woolies has done on this!

  • Che Dyer says:

    Oh this kind of thing breaks my heart! I hope it is resolved fairly and that you get an AMAZING deal to sell your original carriers through their stores! best of luck!

  • Tamara says:

    Who at WW was dumb enough to mess with a tribe of moms?! Appalled.

  • Quintus Neethling says:

    We should all just boikot Woolies and stand together until they respect SME’s that work hard to suport this economy.

    • Ola says:

      I support the motion to BOYCOTT Woolies until the issue with Ubuntu Baba is amicably resolved! Let’s motivate for a date to go on NATIONWIDE BOYCOTT of all Woolies stores! Deal???

  • Tracy says:

    Why didn’t you patent your design?

  • Lauren says:

    Go see an attorney!

  • Megan says:

    Sorry but if you don’t want to be copied, patent your product! And you may have a leg to stand on. If you can charge 2k for a baby carrier (which is completely unaffordable to the majority of South Africans by the way) , then I’m sure you can find the means to have your product patented if it’s that amazing! Wtf. All these proudly south African businesses do my head in. They are proudly south African with a European price tag! Think about the woman who give birth in dire conditions and can’t even afford a pram or car seat letalone a carrier. A “proudly South African” product is one that takes those people into account as well. The babies of those moms also deserve to be transported in a healthy carrier. Maybe rather consider teaming up with woolies and consider making a carrier that SOUTH Africa can actually afford, put it on the retail shelf and MAKE more money!

    • Susan says:

      That is not the point. The issue is that Woolworths does this time and again. The buyers keep stealing designers’ ideas. That is not how Woolworths should behave.

    • Mariana says:

      Mmm, a lot of assumptions made in your comment Megan. Sounds like someone may be working for Woolworths?

    • rubey says:

      Megan, you clearly have no idea what proudly South African means when it comes to manufacturing in this country. Yes, the majority of moms in SA wont afford this, and yes, it would be great to make products they can afford but firstly, that in no way justifies Woolworths blatant copying of another person’s intellectual property, whether or not it was protected by patent.
      I manufacture clothing here, and we have an ongoing battle trying to keep our prices in line with large retailers who import from the East. We pay LIVING wages, and support extended families. You contradict yourself by saying ‘Proudly South African’ charge European prices – well that’s because we don’t believe in, or support slave labour. We’d have to sacrifice integrity and pay slave wages to make our products ‘affordable’ for the majority. So, you choose which you think is morally and/or ethically correct?!
      Why didn’t WW act ‘ethically’ and approach this business and propose a deal that would benefit both, and also the vast majority of moms out there? They have the power, and the monopoly to make things happen, to create change, yet they chose to act unethically, purely for their own benefit, and profits. Do you honestly believe they care for the wellbeing of the disadvantaged moms out there, when they choose to act so unethically in this regard? No, they don’t. SA small businesses also ‘deserve’ to be supported, and not bullied by these big corporates, who care for no-one unless it profits them.

      • IamIgnorant says:

        Thank you, @RUBEY!

        MEGAN and I are the ignoramuses of this world. We speak from opinion with no knowledge of how things work behind the scenes. And it’s clear from reading through the comments that Woolworths are screwing over many small businesses.

        You have certainly opened my eyes and mind to how layered and complex this is all is.

        • Andrew van der Merwe says:

          That is the most charming and disarming apology for ignorance that I’ve seen online in a long time! I think I’m going to have to try remember it as an example to myself. ♥ 🙂

  • Thembisile Tshabalala says:

    I’m so shocked that such a big and trusted company like woolies would do such. I hope it all this gets resolved❤️

  • Roger says:

    1- Contact Frankies and find out who their lawyers were
    2- Contact their lawyers as I’m sure they’d be happy to help, having already beaten Woolies at this game once before.

    Normally, ‘small fish’ who are the targets of such incidents are bankrupted before they achieve victory, and Woolies relies on this. I’m sure Frankies’ lawyers would happily work the case in lieu of a portion of the end product, as you can likely sue for infringement of the design, profits lost, sales missed, damage to your brand, letalone legal costs, and emotional distress.

    I hope you beat them. We need more little guys to win against the big bastards.

  • Emma says:

    Hi. Pedersen and Lennard had the same issue with a bread bin they designed. I seem to remember they were successful. It might be worth engaging other local companies and seeing how widespread it is. If this were the US I would say class action suit

  • Andre Bothma says:

    Please please do litigate.

  • David says:

    I cannot begin to explain how furious I would be if I was in your shoes. It’s hard enough as a small business to compete especially in these testing markets.
    I’m sick to my stomach that big business would stoop as low as that. This is not the first time they have done this.

    The difference between you and Woolworths is that you are actually trying to make a difference in people’s lives. Where Woolworths is worried about their shareholders. I cant give you advice but I support you 100%.

  • Iain says:

    Shameful indeed. Start a crowdfunding initiative to help you with the legal fees. I’ll contribute, especially protecting SA jobs and small businesses like yours that get abused by big corporates like Woolies

  • Renee says:

    You need to get a good copyright lawyer and sue them. It will take time and cost money (but I think some of them you pay only once the case is won) – but if you can prove copyright and show that your concept sketches/designs, planning etc were yours done years ago and show the similarities as you’ve done in the post you’ll stand a good chance of winning. My sister and I had the same issue with a retail store design we did that the client took and never paid for and got another designer to replicate (about 10 years ago) and we sued them and won. I think unfortunately that’s the only way you’ll get anywhere and I believe they’d have to stop production etc until this is sorted out. I’m sorry you’re going through this – it is despicable and I hope everything gets sorted out.

  • Ally says:

    Hi Shannon,

    I completed my masters in intellectual property law and I can tell you this is exactly why intellectual property law exists! Protection by law creates an incentive for inventors and authors to create new works, since they were the ones who spent money, time, creativity, blood, sweat and tears on creating something new and different.
    You possibly know this, but there are different types of intellectual property, patents are just one of them and seem not applicable in this case. If you did not protect your baby carrier by registering it as a design, you still have a strong case based on copyright infringement and passing off, in my opinion. I would suggest you go see an IP laywer to look at the case and to write a letter to Woolworths. Just so the correct legal processes are followed. It will also help you to get a better understanding of your rights regarding your product(s) – for now and in the future.

    All the best.

  • Ja, ne… Woollies for such a long time acted as this so-called responsible company. Everything organic, recyclable but they hiding behind the Brand.

    This is pure theft.

    They will out of arrogance make you an offer… Buy people off seems to be the trend these days. Corporate bullies

    For what it is worth. You one spectacular designer! Pitty The Chinese got hold of it.


  • Lindi Fritz says:

    This is outrageous!! I think you should get Carte Blanche involved…

  • Ja, ne… Woollies for such a long time acted as this so-called responsible company. Everything organic, recyclable but they hiding behind the Brand.

    This is pure theft. And you have rights.

    They will out of arrogance make you an offer… Buy people off seems to be the trend these days. Corporate bullies

    For what it is worth. You one spectacular designer! Pitty The Chinese got hold of it.


  • Louzette van Wyk says:

    See an expert attorney in this field ASAP and odnt waste your time sending Woolworths your complains and if you dont have a legal case against them use media to your advantage.

    If you dont have a patent make use of Adams & Adams attorney firm, they are the experts in thsi field.

  • Alice says:

    I’m so sorry about this! Do you know Frankie’s softdrinks? They do gingerbeer, lemonade and a number of other drinks. Anyway, Woolworths introduced range of softdrinks a few years ago that were almost a complete replica of Frankie’s. Frankie’s took them to court and won the case. Might be worth contacting them for some advice, if you decide to take legal action.

  • Krishni says:

    Because Woolworths is largely known for their reliability in their reputation it is rather confusing why they would so blatantly copy your product. You have also highlited many safety concerns and have your licence. Please do not stop with this blog. As many have suggested you need to open this up to the reputable and investigative media e.g. Carte Blanche and at the same time I feel this may also fall within the jurisdiction of SABS and compliance violations. It is also anti competitive due to dominance of power.

    Strongs for the future. As someone in Small Business I find this disturbing and distressing and am praying for your team going forward.

    Krishni Arumugam

  • Billie says:

    Hi there
    This is terribly sad and I’m sorry for your loss. I hope you take this further and are successful in your plight. With that said, I hope you have a patent otherwise unfortunately it’s open for business, unfair as it is, its the dirty nature of ‘business’ big or small 🙁
    Good luck

  • Tessa says:

    this is disgusting! Tweet everyday and tag Woolworths, phone carte Blanche, 702, newspapers, magazines, whoever will listen. They hate bad press! Tweet and you will definitely get a response!

  • Phumela Mona says:

    This is shocking! You need to stop trying to reach out to Woolworths and contact intellectual property lawyers. This is blatant theft of intellectual property.

  • Dirk says:

    Shannon, I know what you put into this. I saw your enthusiasm a few years ago when this was already more than a viable business. I saw what you built up. I know the thought and energy you put into it because you helped me in my efforts to do a similar venture. I am sorry this has happened. It is wrong. I hope you get this sorted and the necessary compensation that you deserve. You have my support.

  • Lin says:

    Shannon, you really should see a lawyer about this and take some legal steps against Woolworths. It’s because people are affraid of even trying to stand up against big retailers that they get away with these things. If more entrepreneurs stood up against them for stealing their product and design ideas it will create bad publicity for Woolworths. Hit them where it hurts most. In their pockets…

  • Marius Greyling says:

    Dear Shannon, this is sad, but question arises, dis you patter and trademark you design and names and also copyright protected your brand?

    This were we as small businesses makes the mistake. We spent hours and money designing great products, but dont think of protecting them and this is were big Corporates like Woolworths has the advantage.

    You need to act fays and apply for copy rght, pattern and trademark protectio, before Woolworths does and you are forced to stop making your product.

    • Emsie Stander says:

      Marius do you know of good lawyers to get this done at? Small business owners here and been going back and forth up this alley for two years if we should get it done or not….

  • K says:

    Shannon Mary Mac,
    It seems that from your own sources and others’ comments here, it wouldn’t be too difficult to identify/gather-up other businesses that Woolworths has done or is doing the same thing to. Maybe you alone don’t have the type of resources to fight big corporate legal teams, but if you try a group Class Action Suit, or finding a law firm to represent you that only gets paid (awarded costs or a % of your compensation) if you win….and based on history your odds look good since it wouldn’t be their first proven offense, you should be able to fight for your company. With help and insight from Mike Schmidt (Frankie’s successful lawsuit) and media, you may even simply back them into an out of court settlement, if they want to avoid damaging press….As SA govt has made public strides at curbing the local production and import of counterfeit goods in recent years, it would be great if Woolworths also got slapped with a court order preventing them from this type of future behavior, make an example of them and hopefully deter other would-doers from exploiting the hard work of others. Good luck, hold fast!!

  • Michelle says:
    Just saying! I would take them on. They are doing this more and more and it needs to stop!! They are killing our local industry!

  • Kay says:

    Its actually really ridiculous to say this is your unique design because the original of this type of carrier was actually Ergo baby carrier designed in Hawaii way back …. and since then almost every western country has copied 80-100% of it. Your design is really not unique at all. Maybe Woolworths copied your style but the baby carrier is a copy of the Ergo.

  • Alicia Smit says:

    I bought the Woolworths stage 2 by mistake when preganant and then bought the stage one as well! I saw that they said that it can be used from 3.6 kgs and my poor baba’s legs were spread so wide apart that I never used it! I’m so sorry that this happened to you and never knew that it was a stolen idea and it makes so much sense that there would be a string to adjust the part where the baby sits to fit to newborn size. I wish I knew about this earlier!!

  • Sbo says:

    This is wrong please take legal steps

  • Emsie Stander says:

    Dear Shannon,

    So sorry that your new year had to start off like this! I cried as I read your post as we are an local maternity lingerie company, and I know the blood, sweat & tears that go into designing the perfect product! Sending you many hugs and standing by your side to defend your precious IP.


  • Natalie says:

    Please seek legal action against them. Perhaps try to get into contact with others whose designs woolworths has stolen and make a group case against them, that way lawyers fees can be split and make it possible/affordable to make them pay for what they’ve done and learn a lesson. They need to stop sales of their copies, pay you for damage to reputation and loss of income as a result of what they’ve done, as well as apologise publicly for it and acknowledge that your product is of superior quality to the ones they produced. I’m no lawyer, but this is what seems logical to me.

  • Miri says:

    Vincents comment is % correct. If you can prove originality you hAve an opportunity to sue Woolworths as the other 2 companies whose “similar” product was in Woolworths under a different deserve to be fairly compensated for every unit sold , as well aS a blanket compensation for yourloss of sales.Shocking behaviour and the longer they take to reply the longer their reputation as a proudly south african supplier that they boast about gets tarnished.

  • Lyle Munro says:

    Just shocking! Amazing summary of the situation. I’m actually astounded that they really thought they’d get away with this. Can’t wait to hear their response! Good luck Shannon.

  • Doug Southgate says:

    About ethics and iro of WWs seem to be non-existent – pity!

  • shaun says:

    Please tell me you got this sorted Shannon? first & foremost, for the safety of the children…
    along with the horrific tales of what they have done to you & your team…

  • Sibusiso Ernest Sigenu says:

    This calls for 702, this is disgusting to say the least from such a big brand.

  • Nicole says:

    They seem to be in the limelight a lot these days and not often in a positive way. If I were you I would most definitely go seek legal representation and take them on. You have strong grounds to sue them. This is absolutely disgraceful. I sure hope you take this further and do not allow a company of it’s magnitude to intimidate you just because of their size. I don’t shop with them any longer their pricing has gone through the roof! All the best to you

  • Andrew van der Merwe says:

    Looks like this sort of behaviour is really ingrained in Woolworths culture. An Australian friend shared this:
    “Woolworths Holdings Limited (JSE: WHL) who own the South African retail chain Woolworths, also own Australian retailers David Jones and Country Road Group.
    And guess what…designers have been / are being ripped off here too, it’s disgusting.”

  • Marina says:

    If you didn’t licence and patent your design, your design is free to be copied. Completely horrid of woollies to do this but sadly that’s the way these things work.

    • Andrew van der Merwe says:

      Why don’t you read the expert opinions offered here from legal experts in this precise field before you discourage people with your ignorance?

  • Ashamed says:

    Hi Shannon,

    Please please please do not go to that meeting with WW without legal representation. You can be sure that their bullies will be there and you will need a lawyer behind you. Good luck xx

  • Rudi says:

    Good news is that a great lawyer would be able to get a fantastic settlement out of this sly corporation that keeps repeating these unethical practices, thinking they will keep getting away with it.
    Teach them a lesson and remember to have all your legal costs covered BY THEM in addition to the settlement, and an admission of guilt with a sincere apology in a national newspaper of no less than half a page should be included as a non negotiable.
    They’ll think twice before doing it again after that.

  • Rose Meintjes says:

    Hi there Shannon,
    This is totally scadalous and unacceptable, and I am as shocked as everyone else, but my question is: Have you looked at taking legal action against Woolworths? I know legal fees are prohibitive, but surely there will be someone as incensed as the rest of us, who would be prepared to handle the case pro bono? Wishing you luck with this.

  • Marinda says:

    This is the second time that I see wooworths do copy someone elses work. The previous time it was plates.

    Im sorry for you and wish you the best of luck.

  • dan says:

    #NOTWORTHS are the opposite of Robin Hood – stealing from the poor and giving to the rich.

    Shannon I wish you all the success in receiving a massive settlement that allows your company to grow and prosper, bringing more goodness to the world.

    The big corporations will fall if we stop supporting them.

    • Sarah says:

      Happy to have my Man back after 3 months of breakup, .., thanks E-mail: Robinson.buckler (@) yahoo com…..❤️☺️

      wonderfully exciting
      How incredibly
      You’re the best
      I love this..

  • Dean says:

    Good Morning Shannon & Team.

    I’m not a mom, not a dad, not even anywhere in this field but I’m also an entrepreneur and have my own business. I’m absolutely shocked at this 🙁 so so so sad. If you ever need a commercial radio advert or any audio for that matter produced to help get this heard, please let me know and I’ll do any work you need for no charge. Hope you have as good a day as you can and very sorry again 🙁

  • Jenny says:

    I am horrified that this has happened to you. I have also heard and have been warned about Woolworths tricks and stealing of ideas. I’m currently working on and about to launch a product that will most definitely intrigue other retailers. I have Trademarks and copyrights in place. I have seeked legal advice too in order to be prepared as possible but as you mentioned when a small business trying your utmost to keep manufacturing local and to create employment gets snatched and taken to China is so wrong on so many levels. Legally I have been advised that taking on the giants will cost plenty of money and most often the smaller businesses don’t have financial means to take them on. I urge you to find the many people out there who Woolies has screwed over and approach Carte Blanche. I have your back and support should you need it. Please keep me posted. JENNY

  • Lorna M Enslin says:

    I am shocked and angry to hear this. Makes me not ever want to shop at Woolworths again.

  • LMAO says:

    Ugh god, get real ppl.. you won’t stop shopping at Woolworths.

    • Look who’s laughing now says:

      Not over night, but slowly slowly Rome crumbles. If you jump to the conclusion this is not the case, have a look back over the past 30 years how many retailers have shutdown because of poor business decisions and arrogance.

      The problem is the top have already made their millions. It’s the packers, tellers, drivers, etc. who don’t have fat pensions and paid-off houses, who suffer.

      How to protect them?…

  • Rubey says:

    To Megan above…. you clearly have no idea what proudly South African means when it comes to manufacturing in this country. Yes, the majority of moms in SA wont afford this, and yes, it would be great to make products they can afford but firstly, that in no way justifies Woolworths blatant copying of another person’s intellectual property, whether or not it was protected by patent.
    I manufacture clothing here, and we have an ongoing battle trying to keep our prices in line with large retailers who import from the East. We pay LIVING wages, and support extended families. You contradict yourself by saying ‘Proudly South African’ charge European prices – well that’s because we don’t believe in, or support slave labour. We’d have to sacrifice integrity and pay slave wages to make our products ‘affordable’ for the majority. So, you choose which you think is morally and/or ethically correct?!
    Why didn’t WW act ‘ethically’ and approach this business and propose a deal that would benefit both, and also the vast majority of moms out there? They have the power, and the monopoly to make things happen, to create change, yet they chose to act unethically, purely for their own benefit, and profits. Do you honestly believe they care for the wellbeing of the disadvantaged moms out there, when they choose to act so unethically in this regard? No, they don’t. SA small businesses also ‘deserve’ to be supported, and not bullied by these big corporates, who care for no-one unless it profits them.

  • Me says:

    Did you get permission from Linux to use that name?

    • rubey says:

      I would think no-one can claim ‘ubuntu’ as it fairly generic and has widespread use – and besides her product name is Ubuntu Baba.

  • Mark Shuttleworth says:

    No,no she did not. Ubuntu is my intellectual property.

    • rubey says:

      Does she need your permission? I would assume not, since ‘ubuntu’ is a generic name that shouldn’t be ‘claimed’ by anyone? Besides, her brand is called ‘Ubuntu Baba’.

    • Daan Marais says:

      I would imagine that the real Mark Shuttleworth would not be too impressed with your lame impersonation.

  • Rodney says:

    Hi there

    Just sent this out an email to Wool worths

    This is unethical on so many levels and I believe we would be best effective by hitting the road and picketing outside these stores. I’m sure that the people most effected by this could be rallied together. Perhaps the public at large needs to be made aware of this practice so that they can make their own judgements and act accordingly. I am supportive …

    Appreciate your comments

  • Tracy says:

    I am very pleased to read that Mike and Rene are willing to assist and/or give you guidance in this matter. I’m also very upset that Woolworths would have copied your pattern (patented or not). What they have done is unethical and should face legal consequences.

  • Miné says:

    I remember reading a story a few years back about a young lady who was in talks with Woolworths about creating designs for scatter cushions. After a while they declined and chose not to use her designs. Then a few months later she walks through Woolworths and sees her exact design on everything from cushions to tea towels.

  • Classic Woolworths says:

    This is so classic. Didn’t they do the same thing with an artist using his print on their dinnerware and also that row with Frankies beverages. Absolutely disgusting woolworths. This seems to be your trademark.

  • I did a google search on baby carrier and the search result came up as dead link:

    So it seems they are acting but they need to go public with their response. Otherwise a lot of people will stop shopping there.

  • D Salt says:

    As shameful as it is, if you don’t have an iron clad patent on your design you will have no leg to stand on legally

    Copying of ideas & designs has been done for ages in the business realm – hence why a patent is so important.

  • Sumaiyah jeewa says:

    That’s absolutely disgusting! I suggest you just serve them with a lawsuit. And if u need funds to sue them you could put up a post on all your sites and get your loyal customers to contribute towards it. I totally would. I purchased and love my stage 1 Ubuntu Baba Carrier and I will still support Ubuntu baba for my stage 2 and reccomend them to my family and friends. Do something that will teach them a lesson!

  • R says:

    Hi Shannon

    What was the outcome of the meeting with WW?

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  • Ray Ninow says:

    This is a breach of copyright, it does not require any registration of a design ( but that helps). I see someone above has said their lawyer will help. I cannot believe that any reputable company would do this!
    I do hope you get good legal assistance to fight this, it may be expensive but I am sure a good copyright lawyer will advise you of the way to go forward and the odds of success.

  • Robert says:

    I am totally disgusted. And they did the exact same thing to a friend of my friend. They copied his product and sold their version at a fraction of the price – this is definitely not the first time they are doing this! I can get the details of the other case if you need it – they ended up bankrupting him in the process 🙁

    • Andrew van der Merwe says:

      Robert, I’m running a Facebook post to which I add other cases like this – just so they can be all in one place – so I’d appreciate it if you shared some details.

  • Monica says:

    This is disgusting, but not surprising. Forward your story to Woolworths stores worldwide. After all Woolworths is a chainstore with branches all over. Media coverage will soon be exposed around the globe!

  • Garth Arendse says:

    “Woolworths has said it will remove the baby carrier product from its stores, following a meeting with a business owner who claimed the retailer had copied her idea.”

    Well done Shannon for taking them on … one has to wonder about their ethics as this beggars belief.

  • Francois says:

    Its choking that Woolworth is possible to sell this at a 1/3 of the price , as they manufacture it in China. I don’t see anything mention of lower quality. Woolworth is still making a profit on it and paid transport cost plus import duties. The problem rather seems that Ubuntu Baba is killing their own product by pricing and that the reason they cry about it. As their no copy right on the product, any party can manufacturer it and sell it ,Marketing is always in market is based on Quality, marketing strategy and price.

    • Andrew van der Merwe says:

      Trust the invisible hand of Adam Smith to pipe up here.
      “The problem rather seems that Ubuntu Baba is killing their own product by pricing”
      – Irrelevant in a copyright theft case.
      – Read Rubey’s reply to a similar and equally clueless criticism

      “As their no copy right on the product, any party can manufacturer it and sell it ”
      – False and only shows your ignorance. There are comments here from legal experts in the field which you should read.

      “Marketing is always in market is based on Quality, marketing strategy and price.”
      – Interesting to note the absence of any ethical criteria in your list.
      – Marketing people are a unimaginative, conservative, narrow-minded lot. Mostly they only go with what they have data on, what they can see has worked in the past. Consequently they tend to go with has-been ideas and prey on the ideas of pioneers like Shannon McLaughlin once they see them achieving some success. This is what you get when a company is run by marketing people and accountants. I hope they feel the loss nice and keenly in this case.

  • Chris says:


    Start a campaign agaist them with signatures etc.
    Do u have any sort of patent?

    But even if nit, if u can get the public behind u, you will get them.
    Dont give up

  • Elize says:

    Dearest Shannon!

    You have our support 100%, let us know how, when and where you want us to assist!

    All our love and continued support


  • hi There Shannon. disgraceful to hear. I will do my best to support you and other local business, Woolworths is disgraceful in this matter.

  • Greetings Shannon. I was deeply shocked to read your post. What an awful experience. I am a writer, former journalist and marketer. If I can help you in any way please let me know. If I can support you with any writing or media work with this particular issue, it would be my pleasure. I would do this pro bono.

  • Jolandie says:

    I never really comment but as I am teaching entrepreneurship to little ones from the ages of 7yrs this topic and article left me heartbroken and also deeply shocked!
    We are trying sooo hard to teach them the importance of starting your own business earlier in life as it is one of THE most important skills that can uplift our country and stimulate the economy in a macro and in a micro way.
    Entrepreneurship is our future and this will just demotivate kids seeing that hard work and a great idea can be so quickly stolen and copied by the big impersonal retailers.
    Sad to see this and have shared it everywhere!

  • xdoomx says:

    The price of your baby carrier (albeit justified) is a bit steep for a lot of mom’s though. Obviously you cater to a high LSM market but perhaps consider producing a cheaper version for the mom’s that can’t justify that kind of spend and aren’t concerned if its made of organic hemp or polyester blend.

  • Oliver says:

    This is another example of Woolworths blatantly ripping off an idea from a small company. We know about the hummingbird and Frankie’s but how many others have been ripped off without their knowledge? Woolworths needs to make serious amends.

  • Thailys Freites says:

    I am reading the updates and news about your battle. Well done Shannon, they removed the product but don’t stop there! sue them for the lost of profit they caused.

  • DEMPSEY says:

    The fact that a corporate is outsourcing work to foreign suppliers happens often.

    In the IT field as well. Many local IT consulting firms bid for work and uses their empowerment credentials to win the bid, but then it fills the project with a mix of local and foreigners, of whom are flown in on 90-day visitor visa’s. Instead of investing and upskilling a local, who will be productive for a project role, the foreigner comes onboard, does the work with zero knowledge transfer to a local person.

    Same here, a retailer that pays lip service to local SME suppliers but whose disgraceful behaviour indicate otherwise.

    Local corporates must employ locals and use local SME suppliers – its the right thing to do taking into account the high unemployment levels.

    Every foreigner worker or supplier used takes away a learning & work opportunity from a SA citizen.

  • Naomi says:

    I am sick to my stomach!! I have never been a Woolworth shopper. I am so sad for you guys. My heart is breaking. You know God does not sleep. I pray that our Jesus will guide you and your business to do the right thing. If you ever need an ambassador I am here for you!! Warm regards and all the blessings in the world. Naomi

  • JP says:

    Sue them. One of my clients showed Woolworths her pillow designs and they stole all the original artwork and made their own without compensating her. She won the case and got a settlement. No need to rights or patents. Just prove you did it first.

  • Brent says:

    In South Africa you do NOT need to register your copyrights. It is automatic, see page posted on CIPC’s website:
    It is appalling what Woolwoorths have done

  • Kim says:

    I am not surprised in the least.. I have, for years, said to friends, “I’m telling you Woolworths copies the exact design of so many brands”. I’ve seen it often with trainers that they sell; too close to Nike, etc. Your post has confirmed I am not mad for thinking this for years!

  • John Godsiff says:

    Not at all surprised that Woolworths got caught with their pants down doing this. They seem to have a track-record of this behaviour, being very amateurish in the execution.

    There’s the usual lovely set of lofty ethical rules for parading in annual reports and PR releases, but absolutely no intention of adhering to this PR fluff when nobody is looking.

    This sort of plagiarism seems a well-endowed practice in South Africa.

    I know this behavior only too well.

    Years ago I invented a novel golf tee, and named it the “Brush Tee”.

    I made prototypes and extensively documented the whole design process. And then proceeded to test the market on a confidential basis. This took a great deal of time.

    And then one Sunday afternoon, just like Shannon, I got a wake up call when my son came home from the nearby golf club with an exact copy of my invention!

    These crooks had even copied the SAME name I had coined for my product – “Brush-T”!

    Of course, I engaged with their Patent Attorneys (Spoor & Fisher} who falsely claimed their client was the original inventor.

    When they were asked to provide simple proof of their client’s so-called “inventorship” work, they evaded doing so.

    When I provided the compelling documentary proof of my earlier work,
    which confirmed not only was their client’s work a thorough copy of my work, but that it appeared inescapable that it derived directly from my own original work, they immediately ceased further correspondence.

    But the story doesn’t end there. It gets unbelievably more worse!

    While all this legal back and forth was going on, I received a telephone call from a friend one early Friday morning.

    “Have you heard the news on John Perlman’s radio program this morning? Your Brush Tee invention has just been awarded the very top award, the “Chairman’s Award” for the most outstanding product at the SABS Design Institute’annual design competition!

    Except it wasn’t my product that had been entered!

    It was the knowingly plagiarized product (Brush-T) entered by none other than some of the bald-faced imposters posing as the “original conceivors” of this design!

    I immediately protested to the SABS about this, and asked for a meeting chaired by an independent mediator to review both parties evidence.

    Very strangely neither the SABS nor the entrants have shown the slightest desire to accept this simple solution.

    Even though the Chairman of the Design Award panel conceded in front of a witness that my documentation was extensive and compelling, he refused to apply the obvious ethical action, and simply withdraw the prize.

    Who are these plagiarizers?

    The original duo were a father and son (Richard Crouse, and his son, Jason).

    But for the SABS entry they also brought in a well known SA product designer who also just happened to be a long-standing member of the SABS panel of judges for the Design Awards. This was Brian Steinhobel.

    When I called out Steinhobel that he was party to a deliberate act of Plagiarism, and that the right thing to do was to withdraw his name from this entry and return the award, he not only refused, but instituted defamation court proceedings against me.

    Only to suddenly withdraw the case mere days before I was due to defend it and eviscerate his defence in open court at Randburg.

    Steinhobel subsequently paid all my expenses, but to this day still thinks it’s cool to unethically hang onto an award neither he nor his pals deserve.

    All this can be googled.

    The offending “Brush-T” is sold worldwide, and at most golf pro shops in SA.

    You will find copious references to Richard Crouse (since deceased) and Jason Crouse as the “inventors” of the Brush-T. They even appear as such in a book about SA inventions.

    All these claims are completely false.

    You will even find an issued – but fraudulent US Patent – filed as his own invention by my ex-agent (one Zvi Harpaz), who after I terminated his services, falsely filed my invention as his own!

    Any lawyer that is interested in this unbelievable, mind-boggling, case on a contingency basis is welcome to contact me.

    Shannon, my advice is to find a really good PR agent who can negotiate a good deal with Woolworths for you while they are under maximum media pressure. Move quickly, and with maximum publicity. And pile on the pressure.

    It couldn’t happen to a more deserving company!

    You go, girl!

  • Missy B in Johannesburg says:

    Now that the story has become known to everyone, Woolworths is quick to remove the product from their shelves.
    Very conveniently after it had been on the shelves during the festive season, and a very good gift idea to many Mommies out there already.
    I would love to know exactly how many they actually sold and how much they have profited from this.

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  • Dinho Lima says:

    So what? They have to explain. I read somewhere they gonna have a meeting with you. Did they explain something?

  • Coaxel says:

    Shannon you need to get a hold of the guys at Frankies or the guys that handled the Frankies case. I’m sure they would find this absolutely appalling and do everything in their power to help you. Whatever you decide Godspeed and know that you can do this!

  • dave says:

    i wonder what they did with them, sell them in another country where this is not news..?

  • Carlyn says:

    This comes as no surprise as disappointing and shameful as it is. It is the way these corporates operate.They squeal the loudest about all their good deeds and yet if an investigation were done on their practices the public would be shocked.They even do it with food.Who builds up the brand ,does all the development and hard work – they come along -say they would like to offer the same product in their brand and also stock yours.What happens is they under price you, put the old faithful whether its tomato sauce or Black Cat peanut butter on the lowest shelf and before long guess what the faithful brand you grew up with and loved is not available only their version that they in turn start selling for more because they have the control. It is an evil but common practise. A few words come to mind.GREED and CONTROL. In future I beg of you all insist on original brands you grew up with or buy elsewhere.
    If you have bought one of these cool baby items ,take it back used and all and demand a refund. This puts people out of jobs -not in jobs (guaranteed it was made outside SA) We need to protect OUR people as ultimately it is our future and gross unemployment is a threat to ALL our security. Persevere -go on the radio – Cape Talk,consumer council,post where you can and if possible get legal representation. Make them answer for their actions.
    In the end most things are a version of a version but this amounts to nothing but devious bullying when one looks at the lengths they have gone to. It has to stop.Good luck and just remember karma is coming around – there are more and more independents daily and all of our corporate cards should be moving in 1 direction – down.

  • Joe says:

    I just posted on the Woolworths facebook page, they threatened me, they asked me where else did I spam this and they want my email address and my I.D number…

  • I am so incensed by this! It makes one think about every lovely thing they have in their store and who it was filched from!
    You deserve to get huge, huge, huge compensation!

  • Warwick Bruce Chapman says:

    Shannon, how can we help?

  • Montana says:

    Well done on making this known and reaching this point, no doubt there was much stress and fear in that time. It is inspiring to see that speaking out like this can make a difference even when against a company as large as Woolworths. This article has definitely given me reason to question my purchases, thank you! And good luck, all the best with your beautiful business!

  • Dori says:

    Just saw a similar product being sold by homechoice. Came up Facebook feed.

  • Raquel says:

    Sue them now! You deserve royalties on all of there sales!

  • Jacqueline says:

    Shocking. I’m so glad you have spoken out about this. Maybe there is a lawyer who will take them on for a chance at a big payout. Wishing you luck my friend.

  • khaliques says:

    thanks for sharing!!

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