Wake County News

Raleigh man upset after he says his design for NC barbecue feud was copied

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - A Raleigh designer is frustrated after he says his original design ended up on a product he doesn't sell.

John Pugh owns House of Swank and says he created a tomato versus vinegar design to highlight North Carolina's geographical battle over the best type of barbecue.  

The design is on shirts, stickers, and other products, but Pugh says he never expected to see it on a tumbler at Bed Bath and Beyond.

"People have really tied our company with this particular design," said Pugh. "We have shipped these things to, I think every state at this point,  multiple foreign countries, military staff all over the place -- it's kind of our baby."

Pugh says he created the design at least five years ago, but he just learned a design that appears identical is on a Tervis tumbler sold at Bed Bath and Beyond.

 He says he saw the product for himself at the store and also found it online.  


"It's basically like coming into my house, stealing my stuff and walking out. That's really what has me upset," he said. 

While Pugh says Bed Bath and Beyond did not respond to him when he contacted them, the company issued this statement to CBS 17 : 

Bed Bath & Beyond works with a variety of vendors to identify and offer localized products. 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. We are working with our vendor to find a resolution. 

Pugh says that's the "least they can do," but says it is not enough and he is exploring legal options. 

CBS 17 reached out to Tervis and received this response:

“This was not intentional. However, we’ve reached out to the owner of the business to make it right. In the meantime, we have taken immediate action to pull the item from stores and online.”

A search on Bed Bath & Beyond's website Wednesday morning did not turn up any tomato/vinegar North Carolina barbecue products.

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