The fur flies! Ralph Lauren teddy bears spark lawsuit

Designer Ralph Lauren greets the crowd after presenting his Spring/Summer 2016 collection during New York Fashion Week in New York, September 17, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Manhattan designer of stuffed animals on Thursday sued Ralph Lauren Corp RL.N, accusing it of creating an illegal market for stuffed teddy bears resembling her own.

Samantha Goldberg said Ralph Lauren since 2001 has been selling teddy bears handmade from imported Scottish cashmere by her company, Alvin & Sparky LLC. She said her “Big Teddy” retails for $195, while “Little Teddy” sells for $170.

But Goldberg said she learned around September 2013 that Ralph Lauren had begun selling “substantially identical,” non-cashmere knockoffs at a fraction of the price, typically $24.50 to $49.50.

She said Ralph Lauren sells the knockoffs in its own stores, online and through such retailers as Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, and has also marketed a cashmere top and pant set for baby boys featuring her bear design, and costing $295.

Goldberg, who said her stuffed animals are also sold by Harrods of London, said she never gave permission for Manhattan-based Ralph Lauren to copy her designs. She is seeking damages and a halt to the alleged copyright infringement.

Ralph Lauren did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Goldberg was not immediately available for comment.

The case is Alvin & Sparky LLC v. Ralph Lauren Corp, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-01645.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler