Thursday, 11 December 2014

Hinckley company wins copyrights and unregistered Community design action

Jane Lambert

Fashion and textiles are an important industry in the East Midlands. According to Wikipedia
"Hinckley is a traditional centre of the hosiery industry. The first framework knitting machine was brought here by Joseph Iliffe in the 17th century and by the 19th century Hinckley was responsible for a large proportion of Britain's hosiery production. Since the Second World War the hosiery industry has steadily shrunk in size although several textile firms remain in the area."
Perhaps because of its connection with fashion and textiles Wikipedia also reports that Hinckley is home to the creative industries with up and coming graphic designers.

In John Kaldor Fabricmaker UK Ltd v Lee Ann Fashions Ltd [2014] EWHC 3779 (IPEC) (21 Nov 2014) a Hinckley clothing manufacturer successfully resisted a claim for copyright and unregistered Community design infringement by a London design house because it was able to show that its fabrics, though similar to the claimant's, had been designed independently. For those who want to know details of the case I have written the following article Is this a copy? John Kaldor Fabricmaker UK Ltd v Lee Ann Fashions Ltd 11 Dec 2014 NIPC Law.

There are a couple of important lessons from this case.

The first is that the claimant would have won had it registered its design as a registered design in the UK under the Registered Designs Act 1949 or as a registered Community design for the whole UK under the Community Design Regulation as you don't need to prove copying for registered or registered Community design infringement - only that the defendant's design does not produce on an informed user a different overall impression. As there is no examination of for registered or registered Community designs it is a lot cheaper and more straightforward to apply for a design or Community design registration than it is to apply for a patent or even a trade mark.  Many businesses do it for themselves.

The second is that IP litigation is no longer something to be feared as there are now limits to the costs that can be incurred and courts focus on the important issues so that trials are finished within a day.

If anyone wants to discuss this case or indeed copyright and Community designs in general he or she should call me on 0115 824 9090 or 020 7404 5252 during office hours or use my contact form.