Target may soon face legal action after an Oregon woman discovered a tank top at the store that looked nearly identical to one that she created and sells online.
Melissa Lay, a clothing designer living outside of Portland, runs and owns her own clothing store on the online site Etsy. While she has found success in her small business, her most popular item has been a black and white shirt with the decal “#Merica” emblazoned on an American flag.
However, trouble started brewing when Lay received a picture from her friend earlier this month.
“It was almost unbelievable seeing the picture,” Lay told ABC News. “It was the first thing I saw when I walked in. I’ve been making and looking at this design for so long.”
It was a picture of a nearly identical looking shirt at their local Target. Her friend had thought that Lay sold her design to the retail chain.
However, Lay — who created the design herself on photoshop — claims that she did not sell her design to Target.
She has since complained on her website as well as with Target customer service. She also plans on sending a written complaint to the retail store.
When her story hit social media though, it went viral.
Many people who heard her story were quick to share their own similar experiences.
"That’s when I knew that it was worth fighting for small businesses," Lay said, "It’s so hard to fight back."
The Target in question has released a statement regarding the situation saying, "Target has a deep appreciation for great design and it has always been our policy to respect the intellectual property rights of others.”
It continued, "We are aware of this issue and are in the process of reaching out to the designer."
Lay creates all her clothing out of her garage and has not trademarked her design. However, she is thinking about pursuing legal action.
Copyright expert and law professor at Boston University, Stacey Dogan, told ABC News that Lay would be able to consider legal action even though she did not copyright the design.
“It’s less if the work has been registered and more whether the designs are substantially similar in protected expression,” Dogan said.
Photo Credit: ABC