Designer accuses Marks & Spencer of stealing her work after they sold clothes with “strikingly similar” flower print to her own hand-drawn designs

Designer accuses Marks & Spencer of stealing her work after they sold clothes with 'strikingly similar' flower print to her own hand-drawn designs

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UPDATED:

18:10 GMT, 11 July 2012

A talented young designer has accused Marks and Spencer of stealing her work after the superstore launched a range of clothes using her 'signature design'.

Rachael Taylor spotted the selection of garments in the window display of the Oxford Street flagship branch of the store and said the artwork of hand-drawn flowers was almost identical to her own.

She said: 'It appears that this British superstore has a design that is more than strikingly similar to my 'Etched Floral' hand drawn original design.

Signature style: Designer Rachael Taylor with selection of her work featuring the etched flower design she said M&S have copied

Signature style: Designer Rachael Taylor with selection of her work featuring the etched flower design she said M&S have copied

'It's one of my signature designs and I just want to point out that I never granted permission for Marks and Spencer to use it.'

Marks & Spencer have now withdrawn the products from sale saying they had bought them 'in good faith' from a direct supplier.

Miss Taylor’s gripe about Marks and Spencer comes just days after the store announced it was dumping it’s head of fashion after the worst sales figures in three years.

A spokesman for the company confirmed Kate Bostock was to be replaced by former Debenhams chief Belinda Earl after shareholders complained about 'garish colour combinations' and 'flappy-fronted cardigans'.

'Strikingly similar': The M&S T-shirt with the flower design, left, and Rachael's fabric, right

'Strikingly similar': The M&S T-shirt with the flower design, left, and Rachael's fabric, right

Plagiarism accusation: Another of the store's T-shirts, left, next to Racheal's design. She said she never gave permission for the style to be used

Plagiarism accusation: Another of the store's T-shirts, left, next to Rachael's design. She said she never gave permission for the style to be used

Miss Taylor, 29, who is originally
from Liverpool and has worked as a textile artist for seven years, said
her own artwork could be seen on a range of 'more tasteful' items in
stores now.

But she said she had not been approached about the company using her design and had not given it the go-ahead.

She
said: 'I believe a copyright infringement has been made by Marks and
Spencer from using my design and making it into a garment, then selling
in their stores. This design is my hand drawn original and has been part
of my signature collection for quite some time.

'It's sold on my own branded products 'Rachael Taylor Designs' from kitchen textiles through to stationery. The design has also achieved international success as a licensed design, appearing on numerous home decor products in the UK, Europe & USA.

'I understand the importance of standing up for yourself as a designer and for your intellectual property rights, to not be scared and to speak out and protect what's rightfully yours,' she added.

At work: Rachael hand draws her designs

At work: Rachael hand draws her designs

The designer is currently working on her
own label and has previously sold artwork to design studios, private buyers and
other high street stores.

On her website, www.rachaeltaylordesigns.co.uk, Miss
Taylor has included images of both her own branded goods, including tea
towels and cards, alongside those sold by Marks and Spencer.

After posting images the images on Twitter she has been inundated with messages of support from fellow designers.

The Design Trust was among those who commented, claiming the company has 'ripped off' the pattern. Others demanded an explanation for the 'blatant plagiarism'.

The tweet has also been forwarded to Mary Portas, who has worked alongside M&S on some of it’s collections. She has not made a comment.

Home decor: Rachael has used her flower sketch to make household items including aprons, left, and oven gloves, right

Home decor: Rachael has used her flower sketch to make household items including aprons, left, and oven gloves, right

Home decor: Rachael has used her flower sketch to make household items including aprons, left, and oven gloves, right

Miss Taylor, who has won several
awards for her work which is largely quirky, hand-drawn line work, said
she was 'overwhelmed' with the level of support.

Taking legal action: 'We should not be afraid to protect what is ours', Rachael said

Taking legal action: 'We should not be afraid to protect what is ours', Rachael said

She
added: 'I just want to say a huge thank you for supporting independent
designers. We should not be afraid to protect what is ours.'

She said she had consulted a lawyer and will now be taking legal action.

She explained: 'I'm taking legal action against Marks & Spencer, as not only has my
design been used for profit without my permission, I believe in standing
up for the civil rights of myself and anyone else who has encountered
this in their own professional life.

'It's really important to raise
awareness, to stop this happening to other independent designers.'

A spokeswoman from Marks and Spencer said it had removed all the products from sale while it investigated the complaint.

She added: 'We are sorry for any disappointment caused to Rachael Taylor Designs from the sale of a T-shirt that we bought in good faith from a direct supplier.'

She said she would be passing on the details of the supplier to Miss Taylor to pursue.

In a statement, Patricia van den Akker,
Director of The Design Trust, said: 'I hear daily of cases like this. It
really hurts these small designers, both financially and emotionally.'