Woman tak­ing on B&M over de­sign ‘theft’

LE­GAL STORM OVER ELF

Sunday Sun - - News - By Kathryn Rid­dell Reporter kathryn.rid­dell@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

Sarah Green­well’s de­sign is on the left A busi­ness­woman is hop­ing to raise £50,000 to fund her David and Go­liath le­gal bat­tle af­ter claims a high street shop stole her toy de­sign.

Sarah Green­well launched her Elf for Christ­mas prod­uct three years ago but now she is fight­ing B&M af­ter spot­ting what she says is an al­most iden­ti­cal de­sign.

The mum-of-two, from Durham, said: “I have been in­volved in con­ver­sa­tions with B&M for two months and sadly they are deny­ing any in­fringe­ment and are re­fus­ing to take if off the shelves.”

She claims the store’s Mag­i­cal Christ­mas Elf has a ‘very sim­i­lar de­sign and in some places iden­ti­cal lan­guage’ to her Elf for Christ­mas af­ter spot­ting the prod­uct this Septem­ber.

As her ac­tion against B&M gets under way, Sarah has cre­ated a GoFundMe page to raise £50,000 to cover le­gal costs.

So far, a lit­tle more than £1,000 has been raised.

Sarah added: “I’m re­ally amazed at the sup­port from ev­ery­body who do­nated. It’s strangers not people I

know. We had a thou­sand pounds do­nated in the first day.

“There’s a long way to go, it’s a long drawn out process.

“I’m not pre­pared to give up. I’m a tiny busi­ness and I imag­ine they think I can’t af­ford to take it any fur­ther or I won’t.

“I feel re­ally ner­vous about the whole thing but I can’t just let them do this to my busi­ness.”

Sarah, who is mum to five-yearold Holly and Fin­ley, three, says there has been con­fu­sion among cus­tomers over the two de­signs.

“A lot of people think they can buy our prod­uct cheaper else­where but it’s not our prod­uct that they are buy­ing. The mes­sage we’re getting back is to shop in­de­pen­dent and sup­port small busi­ness.”

Sarah set up her busi­ness Big Lit­tle Toys during her ma­ter­nity leave three years ago and now sells her prod­ucts all over the world.

The long-legged, cute-faced Elf, wear­ing a tra­di­tional red and green out­fit was de­signed by Sarah, who says she de­signed the toy fol­low­ing a great deal of re­search and in­vest­ment, she ini­tially com­mis­sioned 3,000 to be made.

Work­ing with her hus­band to pack­age up the dolls, the firm sold out in its first year and upped production num­bers to cap­i­talise on its suc­cess last Christ­mas.

As well as the Elf for Christ­mas, Sarah also sells per­son­alised sto­ry­books and in­di­vid­ual let­ters from the North Pole.

She said: “A lot of pos­i­tive things have hap­pened in the busi­ness but I have got that night­mare loom­ing over me. I should be con­cen­trat­ing on spread­ing the magic and not this prob­lem.”

A B&M spokes­woman said: “B&M has taken coun­sel’s ad­vice on this mat­ter and is con­fi­dent that its Mag­i­cal Christ­mas Elf does not in­fringe Ms Green­well’s prod­uct which is it­self in­spired by the highly suc­cess­ful ‘Elf on a Shelf’ prod­uct in the US. The mat­ter is be­ing dealt with by both sides’ re­spec­tive lawyers and it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate to com­ment fur­ther.”

TIM MCGUIN­NESS

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