The threat of copying is an ever-present one for product designers but copyright laws are a powerful tool which can be used to protect their original thoughts. In one case, the designer of a novel range of bone china tableware won more than £30,000 in damages from an importer and retailer of Chinese-made copies.
The original range featured a ‘red berry’ design and had proved very successful. Its designer objected when tableware bearing a ‘red blossom’ design started to appear in British shops. The company which imported and marketed the latter products insisted that its design was original and had not been influenced by the ‘red berry’ range.
The High Court found that the similarities between the designs were ‘very striking indeed’ and that the company’s design had been copied in substantial part from that of the designer. The latter was awarded damages of £31,703, that representing the company’s entire profit on selling the infringing products in the UK.