Karen Millen wins clothes copying claim against Dunnes Stores

Karen Millen has won a legal case against Irish retailer Dunnes Stores over alleged copying of clothes designs. It is the first of three legal actions by parent company Mosaic Fashions against the budget fashion chain.

The case centres on a top, which Karen Millen accused Dunnes of copying and infringing its design rights as protected by new EC Community Design legislation. Similar actions by Mosiac-owned brands Coast and Whistles are now expected to be heard.

A Mosaic Fashions spokesperson says: “A judgement in favour of Dunnes Stores would have provided a copycat’s charter to imitate with impunity the designs of fashion retailers.”

Today’s ruling is the first of its kind in Ireland and one of only a few test cases heard across Europe related to the Community Design right rules. The legislation was first adopted in 2002.

The ruling, in the High Court in Dublin today, throws the status of the EC Community Design right into further confusion. In the first case heard in the UK between Reckitt Benckiser (RB) and Procter & Gamble (P&G), RB was judged not to have infringed P&G’s Community Design right.

In the long-running case, P&G had accused RB’s Air Wick Odour Stop of being a cheap copy of P&G’s Febreze airspray. In London’s High Court in October, the judge decided that although RB’s product was a poor copy of P&G’s, its inferior quality created sufficient difference for there to be no infringement (MW 18 October).

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