Pineapples may be a longstanding symbol of hospitality, but Ananas handbag designer Jennifer Baum Lagdameo finds that some competitors are all too comfortable with helping themselves to her original designs.
She and her partner, Miwako Washio, created their stylish Furoshiki bag 2 1/2 years ago and continue to produce it in multiple colors ($285). Recently, they've been informed that the signature bag and its larger sibling, aptly named the Grande ($375), have beeen knocked off by at least three (and possibly more) retailers.
Check out the Bally Halter bag from Fossil (with slightly rounded corners, $148),
the Strangelove bag from vegan accessories boutique Matt & Nat (a virtually identical version in two sizes, $90 & $110) -- apparently the ethical treatment of animals is one thing, while the ethical treatment of fellow designers is quite another,
and the Kaya bag from Delia's (with a few beaded strips, the cheapest of all at $22.50).
While Jennifer's initial instinct was to be flattered or amused, she stopped laughing when Ananas lost both wholesale and retail orders as a result.
The legal response? Silence. While Ananas is a successful young company, the Furoshiki bag probably isn't immediately recognizable to most consumers -- so as long as the label isn't copied, Jennifer and Miwako will have a tough time getting protection, at least under current U.S. law.
So what's a creative and talented designer to do? When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And when life slashes your pineapples, break out the tiny paper umbrellas.