california-bianco-web.jpgMontpellier’s California Design

Fireplace industry leaders Montpellier, designers of hand carved fire surrounds have settled an action against Marble 4 Life in a look-alike issue. ACID (Anti Copying in Design) members Montpellier claimed that Marble 4 Life’s Column and Frame fire surrounds infringed their intellectual property rights in their Tamara and California fireplaces which were designed by co-owner Michael Fateh. Mr Naeem Hussain, also known as Mr Naeem Mahboob, under the terms of settlement, agreed that Marble 4 Life Limited would immediately cease infringing the intellectual property rights of Montpellier in the Tamara and California fireplaces, deliver up all Column and Frame fireplaces together with all advertising promotional and marketing material, and provide a witness statement confirming that they had complied with the terms as referred to above. Dids Macdonald, ACID’s Chief Executive said, “It is unfortunate that Marble 4 Life and its director did not adhere to the terms of the ACID mediation as agreed with Montpellier, giving Montpellier no option to protect its intellectual property rights, but to issue proceedings. Marble4Life’s membership of ACID has not been renewed”.


Montpellier’s Tamara Design

Tara Parkes, an IP solicitor at law firm Rickerby’s of Cheltenham added, “The good news was that costs were saved by negotiating settlement prior to trial, with Montpellier obtaining the result not dissimilar to that which it could have achieved if successful at trial”. Way back in 2001 the award winning Tamara and California designs were launched at Hearth & Home exhibition and it was not until June 2004 it came to the company’s attention that Marble 4 Life Limited were offering for sale a so-called Column and Frame fireplace, being a reproduction of the Tamara and California respectively. Advertisements for the Column and Frame fireplaces appeared in the Fireplace Specialist magazine, and these fireplaces were again exhibited in the vicinity of the Hearth & Home Show held from 12-14 June 2005. Both parties were members of ACID so, initially, in accordance with the ACID Code of Conduct, Montpellier sought to resolve their dispute using ACID’s alternative dispute resolution solution, and took part in a mediation with Marble 4 Life. The terms of settlement were agreed at the mediation, which Marble 4 Life subsequently failed to adhere to. As a result, Montpellier took legal advice and a letter before action was sent to Marble 4 Life and Proceedings were then issued and defended by Marble 4 Life who denied all allegations claimed.Eve Iravani, a co-director of Montpellier said, “Despite two reasonable offers of settlement, one of which was the same terms as the mediation with ACID, Marble 4 Life and its director refused and only offered to discontinue and walk away. With only a week to go before the trial, however, sense must have prevailed and a settlement was reached. We feel that by demonstrating our firm resolve to protect what we have created, we are not only sending a clear message to Marble 4 Life but to all within the industry that we are prepared to fight our corner”.

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