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Did Target copy this woman's tank top design?

An independent clothing designer is claiming Target copied a design of her popular black tank top.
/ Source: TODAY

Clothing designer Melissa Lay thought that she had created a one-of-a-kind black tank top — until she started getting text messages from friends showing her one sold by Target that looked awfully familiar.

Lay is a stay-at-home mom from Milwaukie, Oregon, who sells T-shirts for adults and kids from her Sandilake Clothing line on her websiteand on Etsy. She claims that Target copied her design for a black tank top with an American flag logo and the popular hashtag #Merica on it.

She went to a local Target and took a photo of her wearing her design while holding the one sold by Target, posting it on Instagram and writing that "they are identical."

The main differences between her shirt and the one at Target is that the flag is distressed on the Target tank top and a different quality of fabric is used. Lay sells her tank for $25, while Target is selling its shirt for $12.99.

Lay wrote that she contacted Target's corporate office and was told to write a letter with her complaint. She wrote in another Instagram post on Tuesday that she "wanted to bring this open to bring awareness, not necessarily to take legal action," and that she is still deciding her course of action.

Lay does not have a copyright on the image because of the cost, she told Portland's KATU news.

“I would have to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to fix this, and I still might lose,” Lay told KATU. “I don’t know what I’ll do.”

"Target has a deep appreciation for great design and it has always been our policy to respect the intellectual property rights of others,'' the company said in a statement to TODAY. "We are aware of this issue and are in the process of reaching out to the designer.We’re continuing to look into this matter and are in the process of removing the tee from our assortment."

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter and Google+.