After a solid month or so of back and forth, all stemming from Shannon McLaughlin’s blog post detailing how Woolworths stole her Ubuntu Baba baby carrier idea, a “positive and amicable” resolution has been reached.
McLaughlin took her to blog this past Friday to issue the joint statement, detailing what outcomes had reached, following what had threatened to be a very nasty public affair.
In the blog post, on ShannonMaryMac, the entrepreneur made it clear that Woolworths have taken steps to ensure something similar never happens again in the future:
Some examples of these enhanced measures include an Intellectual Property e-learning module to ensure enterprise-wide reach of training, increasing Intellectual Property training to Woolworths employees and all relevant suppliers, and to explore additional systems functionality to support these measures.
In addition, Woolworths will not be retaining any profits from the sale of its baby carriers and instead, will donate a large portion of those proceeds to a credible institution with a view to educating, supporting and developing SMEs in South Africa. The remaining proceeds will be paid to Ubuntu Baba.
The concerns raised by Ubuntu Baba around Woolworths instructions for the baby carriers are being resolved in conjunction with Ubuntu Baba and credible international experts appointed by Woolworths.
As mentioned in previous communications, Woolworths will donate the baby carriers to parents in under-resourced communities.
No figures are mentioned, but you’d hope that McLaughlin [below] was compensated well, given that she had the retailer on the ropes.
Props to Woolies, too, for eventually doing the right thing, even if it was under great duress.
The joint statement finishes as follows:
Finally, investigations into the matter have confirmed that the two Woolworths employees referenced in Ubuntu Baba’s blog, purchased the Ubuntu Baba baby carriers as legitimate mothers-to-be, who work for Woolworths but in completely unrelated departments.
Both Ubuntu Baba and Woolworths are committed to ensuring that entrepreneurs and small businesses are uplifted and supported. We hope that the learnings and positive outcomes of this incident will be used to drive continued SME development in South Africa.
That bit about the Woolworths employees being in “completely unrelated departments” is quite an about-turn from what we initially learnt, but if Ubuntu Baba’s owner is satisfied, then so be it.
Following the release of the above joint statement, McLaughlin appeared on CapeTalk, elaborating on how the two parties solved their differences:
Of course, Woolies has a long and storied history of taking “inspiration” from existing products, and their battles with the likes of Frankie’s and “the hummingbird” artist have been documented.
With the Ubuntu Baba story having gained so much traction, a few other stories have emerged, with both Michelle Legge (founder at Superlatte) and Taleszia Raubenheimer (co-founder at Happy Earth People) accusing Woolies of nicking their ideas.
They appeared on The Money Show with Bruce Whitfield to air their grievances:
You can make your own minds up.
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