Fair or Unfair Competition – What Do You Think?

29.08.2017 (comments: 0)

tl_files/2017/Chiselwood_logo_RGB CP.jpgLocal designers and global award winning Chiselwood take legal action against look alike kitchen.

 

The term intellectual property (IP) is something that many may not be familiar with. Intellectual Property laws are conferred by Government and were created to stop people stealing or copying inventions or designs.  IP is a property right, so in the same way you own your home, no-one can use it without your permission and the same rules apply to original designs or other IP such as copyright, trademarks and patents.

But does the judicial system always work to protect designers in this country? Designers and inventors trying to protect their designs in court in the UK realise it is a very time consuming and lengthy process, often without result. Local company Chiselwood chose to challenge a design they had seen on another company’s website a couple of years ago which looked remarkably similar to their own original design. Whilst they eventually succeeded in having the images removed from the website, they could not fully prove in court that the designs were originally conceived by their designer Martin Holliday. The time consuming, costly and debilitating process took over two years to get a hearing and sadly, did not achieve a conclusive result, due to the fact the judge could not decide where the design for the kitchen had originated or how the similar design had been achieved. Whilst disappointed, they accepted the Judge’s decision Chiselwood but still believe they did the right thing to challenge the infringement.

tl_files/2017/Chislewood (4) Hect 10 CP.jpgSome might query why would anyone spend so much time and money to challenge a lookalike design, could it be for the money or to discredit the other company’s name or jeopardise their business? For Chiselwood it was never about money or competition they purely want to protect their designs. In their view, the other company had copied the kitchen. The other company is successful, a growing business and in time may be unfortunate to see one of their designs copied. If this happens they will be only too aware how it feels to protect something that is as precious as their own unique design.

Chiselwood has taken robust action in order to prevent future copyright infringement. As enthusiastic members of ACID (Anti Copying In Design), clients will be advised that the designs are owned by Chiselwood and will be pursued seriously should there be an infringement. In plain and simple terms this means that if a client takes the designs and gives them to another kitchen company without permission, this is against the law.  Copies of all kitchen designs are now sent to the ACID Copyright & Design Databank which provides third party evidence of the date they are received and helps to strengthen their IP rights.

Martin Holliday explains, “Clients approach us for individuality. After 28 years in design, people are beginning to recognise elements that are unique to Chiselwood and it is important to protect the designs for the clients as well as ourselves. Some concepts take many months to develop, evolve and perfect and we strive to ensure we find ways to reduce other companies copying us.

tl_files/2017/Chislewood (4) Hect 5 CP.jpgIncreasingly, many UK design-led companies have taken action in court for attempting to copy designs. Sadly, other high profile companies, like Trunki, the designers and manufacturers of children’s suitcases on wheels were also unsuccessful in proving they are the originators of the design. The inventor Rob Law lost his case at the Supreme Court in March 2016 when PMS International had a similar product: the judge felt reluctantly, that the suitcases made by the two companies were sufficiently different, namely the wheels and the decorative finish. To the untrained eye it would be difficult to believe they were not identical. PMS had previously admitted copying but, according to the Judges, they had not infringed their IP rights, over legal technicality. Many were shocked at this decision.

ACID has been very supportive to Chiselwood in this frustrating process  ACID CEO Dids Macdonald OBE said, “As a result of our campaigning in 2014 the intentional infringement of a registered design is now a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison and we are now intent on making it the same punishment for infringement of unregistered designs.  Companies like Chiselwood, fortunately, are known for their originality, integrity and ethics. Equally they believe that customers who go to them for bespoke kitchen design should realise that it is wrong to take their designs to another company without permission. Even though the final Court decision did not go their way this time, they are even more determined to ensure that this does not happen again. ACID will continue to raise awareness and expose companies where ethics, compliance and respect for IP are not paramount. In the Autumn we are launching a much more aggressive naming and shaming stance on copying. Watch this space!”

Mel Holliday MD commented further “Our judicial system has a long way to go to protect companies. I believe we have fantastic inventors and designers in the UK. We should be proud of this and strive to ensure those designs and inventions remain the property of the creator. Copying someone else’s design for profit is wrong. If there is a design infringement, there should be easy, swift and clear ways to access fair legal redress and justice. Our experience was frustrating and without a clear result, however, I am proud we tried our best. Martin and I are excited to be representing the UK in September for the Sub-Zero World Design awards in America, clear, proof that we are leaders in our industry.”

To read more about Chiselwood click here 

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