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COPYRIGHT – DESIGN RIGHT – ALLEGED INFRINGEMENTS – ORIGINALITY OF GARMENT DESIGN

G a fashion designer, claimed damages against E, her former business partner, contending that E had infringed her copyright and unregistered right in respect of three garments. Her designs, which commanded a high price in the market, had been described as highly distinctive and possessing a strong signature. E argued that he had created the designs prior to meeting G and had only been influenced by her work.

Held, giving judgment for the claimant in part, that there had been an infringement of G’s unregistered design right claim. On the evidence presented, there was a design which G was entitled to protect either by copyright or unregistered design right. For the purpose of both claims, the designs were both “original” and not “commonplace”. Given the similarity of the garments in issue, the inevitable inference when the garments were examined was that E had copied the essential elements of the designs from G. However, in relation to the copyright claim, the court found that as the designs were not of “artistic craftsmanship”, G was not entitled to copyright protection.

GUILD v. ESKANDAR LTD (FORMERLY AMBLEVILLE LTD) [2001] f.s.r. 38, Rimer, J., Ch D.

“Current Law” September 2001