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IPEC finds design right in wedding dress designs infringed

The IP Enterprise Court (IPEC) has held that unregistered UK design right in two wedding dress designs was infringed by a wedding dress made by the first defendant and through dealing in china figurines of a girl wearing such a dress.

The first claimant, a well-known wedding dress designer following her appearance on the Channel 4 programme My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, claimed that the first and second defendants, ex-employees of hers, had copied designs for a “fan dress” created using pleated fabric arranged in fan shapes, and a dress shown in sketches with the same pleated skirt but diamanté decorations on the bodice (Chenise sketches).

It was conceded that design right subsisted in the fan dress design, specifically the shape and configuration of the skirt. Recorder Amanda Michaels, sitting as an IPEC judge, found that design right also subsisted in the Chenise sketches, the bodice of which had a different overall look to that of the fan dress. The first claimant owned the design right since the designs were made by her, or by the first or second defendants while employed by her.

The judge found that design right had been infringed. The infringing dress has been made substantially to the design of the fan dress, replicating the great majority of the features of the design. The defendant’s dress indirectly copied the Chenise sketches, to which it was also substantially similar, so that design right in the sketches had also been infringed. It was accepted that if the defendant’s dress infringed, so did the figurine.

The judge held that the first defendant was also liable for authorising design right infringement by the figurine manufacturer, since she had provided the manufacturer with photographs of the infringing dress and had the right to exercise some control over the design of the figurines.

Case: Madine (t/a Nico) and another v Phillips (t/a Leanne Alexandra) and others [2017] EWHC 3268 (IPEC), 13 December 2017.

PLC Practical Law 15.12.17