A Mahhattan mother is alleging that a popular children’s clothing chain blatantly copied and took advantage of her young daughter by coping her winning t shirt contest design.
The mother, Ellen Solovsky, filed a lawsuit against LittleMissMatched in a Manhattan Federal Court, claiming that the retailer used her second grade daughter’s design on a number of the brand’s products after the design won an elementary school design contest.
According to the family, LittleMissMatched first used the design on t shirts, then leggings, long sleeve shirts, hoodies, and even underwear. The winning design consists of a smiley face on the front with the caption “Hi” and a frown on the back with the caption “Bye.”
The lawsuit claims that the retailer took advantage of her second grade daughter’s lack of knowledge regarding copyright laws in an effort to cheat her out of compensation from the design, which was created in 2011 as a school project for contest sponsored by LittleMissMatched.
The filing goes on to claim that the young students were asked to sign away their right. Solovsky’s daughter did not receive any credit from the retailer for her design, but was awarded a $100 gift card and five t shirts. Solovsky states that the retail giant was aware that elementary school students would not have known or understood the meaning of the copyright provision of the submission form, and they clearly swiped her daughter’s winning design.
“You want to ensure that your creation is copywritten if it is custom designed,” says Elise Harding, owner of Tee Compressed. “At Tee Compressed, we never reprint someone’s custom artwork without direct authorization from that company or individual.”
Solovksly also signed her daughter’s submission form, however, her attorney claims this does not matter, because it was the daughter who created the catchy t shirt design. The daughter owns the copyright because she is the designer.
This case highlights the growing trend of custom t shirt design. Though promotional items have always been used by companies in effort to build brand loyalty and recognition, custom t shirt design is making a strong comeback.
“Custom t shirts have always been popular, its just a great marketing strategy. Compressed t shirts are especially gaining more traction because they are such a great value and a tactful marketing tool,” says Harding.