A TV recycling expert has threatened to take legal action against a North-East upcycling business that he believes has copied one of his products.

Karen Riley and Donna Feeney recently transformed a rusty old bath found in a farmer’s field into a stylish pink and white sofa, complete with Cath Kidston-style upholstery.

The Northern Echo:

The duo said they bought the bath, which was initially destined for the scrapheap, and restored it after being inspired by Audrey Hepburn’s bathtub sofa in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, pictured above.

The pair run their Darlington upcycling business,Totes Adore, and advertised it for sale on their website, along with a number of other products, including clocks made from bottles and handbags fashioned from old vinyl records.

However, television designer Max McMurdo, who has appeared on Dragons’ Den and Kirstie Allsopp’s Fill Your House For Free, has threatened the pair with legal action if they continue to advertise it as he believes the bath is a direct copy of one of his designs.

He claims to have copyright and unregistered design rights on the furniture, which he has produced and sold for the past ten years through his upcycling business, reestore.

Ms Riley said: “We take things like this very seriously but this is the first time it has come up.

“We love Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Donna’s husband, Graeme, wanted a challenge and helped us.

“He (Mr McMurdo) told me it was his design and that we have copied it, but that bath has been around for a long time.

"The film was made in 1961 - he wasn't even born then.

She added: “We had to work with the contours of the bath and used the original feet, we worked with the original design. We haven’t said let’s make it look like his.”

The bathtub was due to be exhibited at Darlington's recent Festival of Thrift – an award-winning event which has been supported by Mr McMurdo since its launch last year.

But due to the row, the pair opted not to take the bathtub sofa

Ms Riley said: “We had lots of people come to our stand asking where the sofa was. We thought it fitted with the ethos of the festival, which is a happy event to help people upcycle and reuse.”

Mr McMurdo made no comment when approached by The Northern Echo.