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Canada Quebec artist alleges IKEA, UNICEF stole toy idea in $22-million lawsuit

Trollies are seen outside an IKEA store.

Neil Hall/Reuters

A Quebec artist is suing IKEA Canada and UNICEF for $22-million for allegedly stealing her idea of making plush toys in the mould of children's drawings.

Claude Bouchard filed her lawsuit Monday in Montreal.

She alleges the Swedish company and the United Nations Children's Fund copied an idea she thought of decades ago.

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Bouchard invented plush toys that are reproductions of imaginary creatures from kids' drawings, a style of art she began in the 1970s.

She says her work can be found in museums and are well-known enough that IKEA should have been aware the idea didn't belong to the company.

Bouchard said she was "stupefied" to notice similar plush toys in a Montreal IKEA store in January 2016.

The artist said she sold her work in a UNICEF boutique between 1994 and 2005 in Montreal.

She claims to have presented UNICEF with a plan to sell the toys internationally for the organization's 50th anniversary but was rebuffed because she didn't have large-scale production facilities.

Bouchard says UNICEF has been collaborating with IKEA since 2014 on a project that sells toys she alleges look like her creations.

She claims the plush toys could not have been created without the help of UNICEF, which had privileged access to her concept.

None of Bouchard's claims have been proven in court.

Neither IKEA nor UNICEF wanted to comment on the case.

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