The May 14, 2005 edition of The Herald reports:
Legal row as Tweed industry ‘put at risk’ Top designer accuses firm of plagiarising her output
Alice Starmore, the leading hand-knitting designer, claims that Harris Tweed Textiles Ltd, based at Carloway in Lewis, is “a deeply cynical group of individuals, determined to live off the work and efforts of others”.
That’s just about as much of the article that’s available online at the moment; the online version lags behind the print version. That particular excerpt is currently available from a for-fee search service of Scottish newspapers.
Edit: well, I couldn’t resist, so I paid the 1.95 GBP to view the brief article.
The Herald article reports that Starmore claims that Harris Tweed Textiles Ltd “barged uninvited” into her business by “stealing” an entire section of her Virtual Yarns website content — that HTTL had in fact copied some of her website content, including an error in her own text, and merely changed the name of the business referenced in the copy to HTTL.
Starmore also stated that HTTL was about to embark on a “crude and audacious theft” of her work, inasmuch as HTTL had advertised that they were about to produce hand knitting yarns to be called “Hebridean” and inspired by the colours of the Hebridean landscape.
HTTL’s response to these allegations was that Alice Starmore would be hearing from their lawyers in due course.
I couldn’t say, myself, if this means that Starmore thinks she must be entitled to some monopoly on being inspired by the colours of her home region for the development of knitting yarns, or if this means that she thinks she’s entitled to exclusive rights to the name “Hebridean” for use in association with yarns produced in the Hebrides. Of course, this did mean another trip to the Way Back Machine to see what could be found. But drat, the database isn’t cooperating, so I’m having a hard time pulling archived content from either the VY or HTTL website right now. So I can’t tell what content HTTL might have copied.
This page on the HTTL website isn’t currently linked up to the HTTL website menu, but it’s still live — the page announcing that Harris Tweed Textiles Ltd has developed a line of “Harris™ Knitting Yarns” with Rowan. A description of the Shorelines pattern book in support of the yarn states that
Central is the theme of Scotland past and present; of people and ideas dispersed across the world and remixing in a modern Scotland of different cultures and ideas but still rooted in its historical context. The Shoreline is the point of departure and arrival of influences and of people. The colours reflecting the continuing tradition of of the Isles and the country.
I couldn’t find any similarity between the current HTTL website and Virtual Yarns.