A Toronto mitten maker has bone to pick with snowboarding juggernaut Burton about a glove design she believes they ripped off. Owner of mimiTENS, Anna-Maria Mountfort, got the idea for her patented design after her kids kept losing their gloves while playing outside. She went to the sewing machine and attached socks to the open end of mittens, extending them up the arm, making them more difficult to fall off accidentally.
Stowe Today reports that Anna-Maria got an online order for a pair of her children’s glove from an email ending in @burton.com back in 2015. She was suspicious and called the Burton employee to investigate but was explained that the gloves were for a gift for the employee’s niece.
The next winter Burton dropped a line of kids mittens and gloves with a similar extended cuff and Mountfort was convinced that Burton had ripped off her design. At the time of Burton’s Minishred Gloves release, Mountfort did not have a patent for her design but was in the approval process. When she was eventually granted her patent she notified Burton and the company ceased production on its line:
“I think they were definitely inspired by them.” -Mountfort
Mountfort’s admits that a couple of other U.S. manufacturers make gloves or mittens with a stay-up sleeve but believes Burton specifically copied her idea of including patterns on the sleeves.
Burton CEO Donna Carpenter stands by the assertion that “Burton had done nothing wrong as far as patents go. Multiple brands make gloves and mitts with extended cuffs — it’s an extremely common feature” but chose to correspond with Mountfort after the initial claim was made:
“Even so, I felt it was important to personally correspond with Anna-Maria because I very much respect her passion and entrepreneurship. Over the course of nearly two years, we wrote back and forth, discussing everything from her patent concerns to the Women’s March and her daughters’ love of snowboarding. When she wrote me one year ago about receiving a patent, I personally congratulated her and said the world needs more women entrepreneurs.
Sadly, the last response I received from her in late October was unprofessional and downright hostile. It was clear from the angry tone of her message that she was hoping to receive money from us — even though we had done nothing wrong. All along, we’ve taken Anna-Maria’s concerns seriously, looked into them and responded transparently. Despite our difference in opinion on this matter, I wish her the best of luck with her business.”
With both Canadian and U.S. patents for her designs in hand, Mountfort decided against taking legal action and instead decided to make her plea to the court of public opinion and went to the media telling her story to CBC.
So what does the court of public opinion think…is this an unfortunate case of parallel thinking or did is Burton guilty of ripping off Mountfort’s design? What about you Uncle Phil…whats your ruling?