“Kmart just copied our unique Christmas product idea” is how a viral TikTok video starts, which has been shared over 110,000 times on social media. Owner of The White Christmas company in Australia, Mollie White, claims the big retailer has infringed on her product idea simply because they have the money and the power to do so. 

White claims she started with this idea in 2021 when Kmart had no Christmas-themed pool floaties. Her company, The White Christmas, began operating last year, working with manufacturers with no marketing budget to “produce a high-quality product which our price reflects.” 

White claims she even had to ask family and friends to pose in front of the camera to help her with the product photos for the website. “I think the whole design process probably took about five or six months.”

In June last year, the manufacturers finalized her product after she designed it herself. But with a small budget, she couldn’t access exclusive rights to the manufacturing company. 

White says: “It’s natural for other businesses to copy and want to jump on the bandwagon, especially if that product is doing well. But just know it always pays to support small business, and we appreciate it so much.”

Product idea cloning

The fear of any small business owner is how to protect your company from competition while you still don’t have many dollars in the bank. 

Locate2u CEO Steve Orenstein says there are a few things small businesses can learn from this. 

  • If your product is so easy to copy, you probably don’t have something unique.
  • Use trusted manufacturers, not those who would take your design and sell it to others.
  • Differentiate what you’re providing versus what’s being sold in a retail store – for example, the price, quality, or delivery experience.

“That’s a challenge to get products manufactured unless you own that intellectual property and you’re in a country that respects intellectual property,” adds Orenstein. 

“There are certain countries that don’t (respect intellectual property), and that makes it challenging.”

Mixed reaction

Some claim that if made at a manufacturing company dealing with mass production, “the manufacturing company shopped your idea around. Kmart wouldn’t have known.”

Some accuse large companies of having more resources to invest in research. These companies study other products made by large manufacturers: “People don’t realize that Kmart would have seen your product. This is what buyers and product designers do. Research other products on the market,” confirmed an Australian artist. 

About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand. Do you have a story you would like her to expose, report on, or consider? Please send your request to Newsdesk@locate2u.com.