House of Swank says design stolen and sold at Bed, Bath & Beyond

Elaina Athans Image
Tuesday, July 31, 2018

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) -- It's an image that perfectly captures the essence of North Carolina: A graphic of a divided state with "vinegar" to the east, "tomato" to the west.

House of Swank owner John Pugh said his company created the iconic design and is irate that apparently, another company found it so appetizing, it helped itself to his barbecue-themed image.

Pugh said he was in Bed, Bath & Beyond on Sunday and found his image imprinted on a Tervis tumbler, sitting on a shelf.

"I was livid. It's outright theft," he said. "It was like a slap in the face. It was like breaking into my house, stealing my stuff and taking it away from my kids."

An ABC11 crew found the small tumbler inside the Bed, Bath & Beyond near Triangle Towne Centre for $16.99.

Pugh describes the drinkware in three words.

"Wrong, lazy, and fraud," he said.

He said the design is an exact match explaining, "The spacing, the font placement, the size of the split."

The Downtown Raleigh business owner began making shirts with the design about six years ago.

"We do have some copyright protection based on the fact that we were first to market with it," Pugh said.

ABC11 reached out to both Tervis and Bed, Bath & Beyond for comment.

The home retail giant said the tumbler will be pulled from shelves.

"Bed Bath & Beyond works with a variety of vendors to identify and offer localized products," the company told ABC11. "As we learned of the issue with this artwork on the Tervis product, it is being pulled from shelves and our website, pending further investigation with Tervis.

"We understand the importance of design and crediting the artists for their work," BB&B continued. "We are working with our vendor to find a resolution."

Tervis said the issue was unintentional and said it is working to make things right.

Meanwhile, Pugh is busy figuring out his next course of action.

"We are talking with an attorney right now," he said. "No cash has changed hands at this point, but we're looking into our legal options."