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DESIGN RIGHT – INFRINGEMENT – SLIDING WARDROBE DOORS – TYPE OF CONSTRUCTION – DESIGN AND COMPONENTS – APPLICABLE EXCLUSIONS

[Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 s.213, s.246.]
CT designed and manufactured sliding wardrobe door systems comprising mirrored doors with a mirror panel mounted in a frame formed from aluminium extrusions, placed behind wooden mouldings. RW and VC were two of CT’s competitors against whom CT commenced actions for design right infringement in respect of his wardrobe door systems. CT referred for determination, under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 s.246, whether design right existed.

Held, allowing the reference in part, that design right subsisted in some of the claimed features, as (1) the phrase “any aspect of shape or configuration” in s.213(2) could include materials used in the design, although mere choice of material was excluded by s.213(3); (2) although a given shape or configuration arising from a type of construction could be protected, this would not be the case where a wide range of articles could be produced using the same construction methods, as this was excluded by s.213(3); (3) in the instant case, whilst claims for the overall external appearance of the doors were not based on a type of construction method, claims for the general concept of concealing aluminium extrusions by the use of mouldings were excluded by s.213(3); (4) the “must fit” exclusion under s.213(3)(b)(I) was not restricted to articles designed by the same person; (5) the “must fit” exclusion could also apply to components or features for which there was more than one possible design, Ocular Sciences Ltd v. Aspect Vision Care Ltd (No. 2) [1977] R.P.C. 289, [1997] C.L.Y. 3894 referred to, and (6) adding mouldings to the aluminium extrusions went beyond mere decorative surface features, so that they were capable of design right protection, Mark Wilkinson Furniture Ltd v. Woodcraft Design (Radcliffe) Ltd [1998] F.S.R. 63 [1997] C.L.Y. 1034 referred to.

CHRISTOPHER TASKER’S DESIGN RIGHT REFERENCES, Re [2001] R.P.C. 3, Peter Hayward, PO.

Current Law: March 2001