Calgary clothing company ‘disappointed’ after Walmart sold shirts with similar design

It’s been almost a decade since Connor Curran and Dustin Paisley decided to create a unique clothing brand in Calgary. Chances are you’ve seen their products around town.

“We were proud to be from Calgary and we were proud to be YYC,” Paisley explained. “But more than that, we were proud to be Canadian and that sparked the inspiration to create a design like this.”

They say they also felt they did everything right when it came to protecting their creations.

“Registering a trademark is actually very difficult and very expensive,” Curran said, “especially for a small business.”

Curran also serves on the board of directors of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

“It was a major financial decision for us at the time and it remains a major decision whenever we consider releasing new models.

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“It takes many years, we’ve hired lawyers and it costs thousands of dollars.”

So when a customer contacted Local Laundry in March 2023 to say he’d seen an alarmingly similar T-shirt sold at Walmart, the two men checked it out for themselves.

The designs both feature two simple crossed lines and the letters C, A, N, but where Local Laundry features a maple leaf, Walmart has momentum.

“I was disappointed,” Paisley said. “I was quite sad and I was a bit angry to see that they were using a similar brand which was confusing.

“We put a lot of time and energy into our designs and building our brand.

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“We think we have a right to defend that.”

Local Laundry believes the Walmart t-shirt (right) bears a striking resemblance to the Local Laundry t-shirt (left).

Local Laundry said it contacted Walmart Canada through its counterfeit portal, but months later the shirts are still on shelves. They say Walmart refused to stop selling the product.

Walmart Canada told PKBNEWS it is looking into the matter.

William Stemp, a Calgary trademark lawyer, says that legally it’s difficult to draw a hard line in cases like this.

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“There is no difference of 10 or 20 percent; there is only the question of whether the two models appear to be similar enough to the point where one would think they come from the same source, the same company, or appear to be distinct enough and different enough,” Stemp noted.

Although the Canadian Intellectual Property Office grants intellectual property rights – such as trademarks – it does not enforce them.

This is the responsibility of the brand owner, according to the federal government.

Local Laundry says it’s leaving all legal options on the table, but above all it hopes Canadians will choose to support local businesses.

“Here we are, a small Canadian business, printing, sewing, cutting and shipping the design, all here in Canada. It’s an all-Canadian garment,” Curran said.

“It was shocking to see how many other small businesses have gone through the same things – gone through the same hoops, paid the same expenses, gone through all these difficulties of registering a trademark only to find themselves in the exact same situation. situation as us. It’s as if it was all for nothing. »

&copy 2023 PKBNEWS, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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