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High Court Stamps on 'Copy Cat' Fashion Importers

Widespread imitation of original fashion designs poses a perennial problem for the clothing industry. However, the High Court has come down hard on importers of a range of jeans which were ‘copied’ from a leading brand.

The makers of the popular jeans brand argued that their design rights were violated by the infringing garments, which were manufactured abroad before being shipped to the UK. The group of companies behind the infringing garments disputed the claim ‘root and branch’, insisting that their products ‘just followed general fashion trends’ and that any similarity was merely coincidental.

However, the Court found that the similarities between the importers’ jeans and the leading brand were ‘striking’ and that the former replicated a large number of details evident in the latter. The importers had signally failed to dislodge the presumption that their goods were the product of copying of the original design.

The decision opened the way for the makers of the leading brand to seek damages, as well as an injunction forbidding further acts of infringement, and delivery up of any infringing garments in the importers’ possession. The Court left the parties to agree a form of order consequent upon its ruling.