CATWALK TO COPYCAT – WHAT’S IN A STRIPE?

Image of striped shirts

A lot it seems! In the first Judgment under the 2002 EU’s unregistered design right regulation, court action was taken by Mosaic the owners of Karen Millen against Dunnes Stores in Ireland. Irish High Court Mary Finlay Geoghegan ruled that Dunnes had, in fact, copied 3 Karen Millen garments and rejected Dunnes argument that the Karen Millen garments lacked “individual character” and “failed to produce a different overall impression on the informed user”.

Karen Millen’s shirts were made available through the chain in December 2005 and in 2006 remarkably similar designs were seen in the clothing retailers Dunnes. Karen Millen’s lawyers argued that the similarities in designs were neither innocent nor coincidental and relied on the EU regulation on unregistered community design. Following this it is believed that similar actions will be taken by Coast and Whistles, both owned by Mosaic.

ACID Comment: Following the recent ground breaking judgment by Lord Justice Jacob at the Court of Appeal on the case between Proctor & Gamble and Reckitt Benckiser guidelines were been laid down on how monopoly rights over designs should be interpreted in the future across the whole of the European Union. This is the first example of an unregistered EU design relying on this Judgment.

What is the definition of design? “Design” means the appearance of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, colour, shape, texture, contours, materials and ornamentation. Unregistered design rights last for 3 years in Europe and 10 years in the UK. The Registered Community Design is a monopoly right lasting 25 years, renewable every 5 years. It is valid in 27 member states. Obtaining a registered UK or Community design is still quite expensive for many, so ACID has a design data bank which stores thousands of designs – this service is free to ACID members. The design data bank does not add to rights but provides evidence of the date designs are received by ACID providing independent evidence of design creation should it be required.

For more information regarding registration of designs in the EU visit the OHIM website

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