A Trademark dispute has erupted between Canadian retailer the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) and the Cowichan First Nations group in British Columbia, which claims HBC stole their traditional knitted sweater design for its Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics clothing.

The Cowichan tribe said its shape and animal motifs were taken from their traditions and it is threatening legal action.

HBC said the sweater was wholly HBC's design, incorporating the Canadian maple leaf and HBC's elk logo in the pattern.

HBC also defended its refusal to have Cowichan knitters make 750 Olympic sweaters, explaining: "[We] conducted a rigorous process of sourcing a supplier that is able to meet our volume demands as well as…ensure our customers across the country receive consistent quality."

By Emma Jackson.