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IPEC judgment on copyright and design confusion

Written by Ellis Sweetenham on 29 October 2015

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T & A Textiles and Hosiery Ltd v Hala Textile UK Ltd [2015] All ER (D) 217 (Oct)

Facts:

The claimant company brought proceedings against the defendants, claiming that eleven distinct bed linen products sold by the first defendant company infringed copyright with respect to eleven original works created by a director and employee of the claimant.

The defendants counterclaimed for invalidity of a design registered in March 2009 in respect of a label for packaging, and for groundless threats of proceedings for infringement of the registered design.

The alleged threats fell into two categories: threats to third party companies and communications sent to eBay about the first defendant's listing.

The first communication was a document entitled 'notice of claimed infringement' threatening proceedings.

The second was a letter dated 17 November 2014, which gave further details.

Regarding the allegations of copying and copyright infringement, the defendants argued that the products complained of had been imported by them before the claimant had created the corresponding designs that had allegedly been copied and infringed.

 Regarding registered designs, the second defendant, S, submitted that the first defendant's allegedly infringing packaging had been made available to the public from around 2004.

Consideration was given to s 26 of the Registered Designs Act 1949.

Judgment:

On the evidence, all of the products complained of had been imported by the defendants before the claimant had created its corresponding designs.

The allegation of copying failed, as did the case of copyright infringement.

Regarding registered design, none of S's evidence had been challenged. Nor had any reason been provided as to why a finding of invalidity would not follow. Therefore the registered design was invalid.

The threats action succeeded in relation to the letters sent to third parties and, in relation to eBay, regarding the letter dated 17 November 2014.

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