Zatori Results Limited, an online retailer, has initiated High Court proceedings against Shop Direct Ireland Limited, trading as Littlewoods Ireland, seeking a High Court injunction preventing the defendant from selling their version of a Christmas jumper. They are also seeking damages for alleged infringement of its unregistered design rights, with sales of their jumper down 75% compared with sales in 2012.
The jumper in question was initially designed and sold by the Plaintiff in 2012 and became a commercial success, being one of the top selling Christmas jumpers on Amazon. Their design features a snowman, Christmas trees and stars on a navy blue background, similar to the alleged infringing jumper being sold by the Defendant.
Unregistered design rights can be used to prevent unauthorised copying of an original design. Council Regulation (EC) No.6/2002 provides a system for Community wide legal protection of designs, including unregistered designs. A Community unregistered design right lasts for 3 years and comes into existence automatically by the mere fact of making the products incorporating the designs available to the public within the European Community. To qualify for the right the owner must be able to show that it is in fact a "design" that is new and has individual character.
Justice Ryan granted leave to serve notice of the proceedings on the defendants and returned the matter for next week. Interestingly he noted that the jumper at the centre of the dispute was not like the one he had recently purchased!