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Sunglasses in Design Controversy

Written by Jane Coyle on 27 March 2008

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Comic firm Marvel and film producer Twentieth Century Fox and a UK company is being sued over promotional sunglasses that are similar to those in the film Fantastic Four: The Rise Of The Silver Surfer. RDP Limited is a London-based company which sources promotional film merchandise. It lists items connected to Star Wars, Batman and Spider-Man in its list of past products. Sports clothing and equipment firm Oakley is suing all three companies over a pair of sunglasses included in a gift pack produced to promote the Fantastic Four film. It claims that the sunglasses violate rights it holds in the design through a US design patent. Actor James Marsden wore a specially-made pair of Oakley sunglasses when he played Cyclops in the film X-Men.The patent design in question protects "the ornamental design of an eyeglass front embodied by Oakley's 'Penny' eyewear," said Oakley's papers. A design patent exists in the US but not in the UK, where a design for sunglasses could be protected through registration with the UK Designs Registry, part of the UK Intellectual Property Office. Oakley wants the court to award it an injunction stopping the three companies from making any sunglasses that infringe on its design patent in the future. It wants the companies to transfer any profits it made on the sale of the sunglasses as well as damages in compensation for its lost profits due to the activity and a royalty on sales already made.

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