ACID (Anti Copying in Design) member Sarah Hendry is celebrating a success in the Patents County Court after HHJ Birss QC gave judgment in her favour against American company Falcon Collectible Miniatures, who Sarah alleged had copied five of her 1/12th scale miniature sculptures.
This case was also of note in that a witness statement from ACID CEO Dids Macdonald was part of the evidence which confirmed Sarah had filed her designs with the ACID data bank on the dates she had alleged which helped support the alleged date of creation of her animals.
Renowned and highly regarded as a sculptor for her work in producing miniatures, which are typically bought as collector’s items and used in dolls houses, Sarah Hendry has been a member of ACID since 2002. Sarah discovered that Falcon was displaying copies of her work at the Miniatura trade show at the end of 2007. Sarah contacted ACID accredited lawyers McDaniel & Co who wrote a Cease and Desist letter to Falcon who would not cease their activities and therefore Sarah commenced proceedings.
Sarah’s miniature animals are each individually hand sculpted and the creation of a new animal can take up to 2 months working 6 hours a day to perfect. It is a time consuming process which takes a great deal of skill and labour and as Falcon were having cheap copies made in Thailand and selling these at a greatly reduced price to Sarah’s, the effect on her business was very damaging.
The Action eventually reached Trial in June 2011 and HHJ Birss entered judgment in Sarah’s favour which included a declaration that the copyright in her works had been infringed, an injunction to prevent Falcon carrying out the acts complained of in the UK and a costs award in her favour.
Andrew Lee of McDaniel & Co, who acted for Sarah, commented, “Sarah Hendry spends a great deal of time and effort creating her works and therefore it was imperative that she took action to protect her rights. She is a ‘one man band’ and therefore finding the money to fight this case was testing. However, to allow such infringement to go unchallenged would undermine her business and make the creative effort she employs pointless.”
Dids Macdonald ACID’s CEO said, “This is a great result for Sarah and shows that small individual designers can take Action when their rights have been infringed. Let’s hope it sends a very clear message out to companies like Falcon who think they can free ride on others craftsmanship and creativity without being challenged. We are hoping that following the recent Hargreaves Review and ACID’s compelling submission, Government will introduce a Fast Track IP Small Claims Court so that micro businesses like Sarah’s will have easier access to cost and time effective IP resolution. Hopefully, time is running out for those that think they can hide behind deep legal pockets”.