ACID (Anti Copying in Design) member Rachael Taylor was amazed and disappointed to discover that Marks & Spencer were selling a range of clothes using her “signature design”, which is her own hand drawn “Etched Floral” design. Through ACID accredited lawyers, McDaniel & Co., IP specialist Kelly Hudson advised her to pursue her democratic and legal IP rights’ ownership by challenging the look alike with evidence of her copyright ownership. Kelly then sent a letter before action to rightly give M & S the opportunity to respond responsibly.
After a series of legal letters, which is very expensive for a micro design company against a major retailer, M & S lawyers responded with a defence that they were “unaware” of the existence of Rachael Taylor’s design. Frustrated and disappointed that M & S would not acknowledge infringement of her rights, Rachael raised the lookalike matter through social media. Without admitting liability M & S responded straight away and said that they had pulled the product immediately.
Rachel Taylor commented, “I am disappointed that having pursued this matter through the legally correct procedure, I had to resort to Social Media to make my plight known due to the fact that M&S have not been willing to acknowledge there has been any infringement of my rights. However, now I am hoping that Marks & Spencer will reconsider the stance it has taken thus far and admit the infringement and give agreement to the legal remedies I am entitled to. I never gave M & S permission to use my own hand drawn design and they should have checked with their own suppliers before selling what is clearly my design and profiting substantially as a result.”
Dids Macdonald, Anti Copying in Design’s CEO said, “I asked ACID’s lawyer to contact the M & S legal counsel to see if they would be willing to discuss infringement matters and promoting communication with the design community generally and got a flat “No”. I will now write to the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility to try and engage positively and find a satisfactory solution to this infringement. Clearly, I would like to see a more demonstrable response from Marks & Spencer. In addition I would cordially invite Marks & Spencer to become Retail Members of our Government endorsed campaign, to invite major retailers to sign ACID’s voluntary code of conduct, as a demonstration of goodwill and also to adopt IP guidelines for design buyers to assist them in avoiding any future incidents such as those experienced by Rachael. This is part of ACID’s national “Commission it; Don’t Copy it” campaign which has been signed by John Lewis and Selfridges to date. We are now asking all designers to sign our petition for High Street Retailers to support our campaign and sign the Code of Conduct."
Coverage of this case has been extensive in the Daily Mail, Drapers, Liverpool Live and also Watchdog is following this with continued interest”