May 29, 2013
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Design firm Marimekko apologises art-copying

May 29, 2013

HELSINKI, FINLAND - Finnish clothing and home furnishings retailer Marimekko admitted one of its fabric patterns was copied from Ukrainian folk art in an incident which may lead to copyright claims and hurt the company's image.

Helsingin Sanomat newspaper earlier on Wednesday reported about almost identical similarity between Marimekko's pattern from 2007 and a 1963 painting by the late Ukrainian folk artist Maria Primachenko.

Designer Kristina Isola and the company confessed and apologised for the plagiarism, which was viewed by the owner as a serious copyright violation.

"I didn't think about copyright or that I took someone else's creative work," Isola said in a statement.

The disputed print | Source: Marimekko

The "Metsanvaki" design, a naivistic portray of a forest, has also been painted on a side of one of Finnair's long-haul planes.

A museum that owns the painting considered the incident as "very unpleasant".

"We will seek legal advice on this matter because this is a serious copyright violation," said Adriana Vyalets, the director of the National Museum of Ukrainian Folk Art.

Marimekko's design chief Minna Kemell-Kutvonen told Reuters it was difficult to evaluate the impacts for the company as yet as the firm had learned about the plagiarism only late on Monday. Shares in the firm fell 2.2 percent by 12:57 p.m. British time.

Previously Marimekko has been fighting for its own copyrights. In 2007 it asked a German court to ban the sales of Dolce & Gabbana's certain products, saying the Italian company was using its patterns without permission. The dispute was settled in 2008.

The company, known for its colourful prints which decorate many homes in Finland, earlier this month reported first-quarter loss due to a costly expansion in the United States and weaker sales in Finland.

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