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Design Right and Infringement

Alfrank Designs Limited v Exclusive (UK) Limited and another [2015] EWHC 1372 (IPEC) is a leading case in which the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court awarded damages in respect of the infringement of its unregistered EU and UK design rights.

Both the Claimant (“Alfrank”) and the first Defendant (“Exclusive”) were competitors in the wholesale furniture business. The second Defendant (“Harveys”) was a furniture retailer and was a former customer of Alfrank and Exclusive.

Alfrank brought an action against Exclusive on the grounds of infringing its unregistered EU and UK design rights by selling two specific styles of dining tables (from Alfrank’s own range of dining furniture) to retailers and the subsequent sale of the said dining tables on part of Harveys to consumers.

The Court decided that the infringing tables caused an equivalent loss of sales by 20% for Alfrank and as such Alfrank was entitled to the profit it would have otherwise made. Hacon J also decided that Alfrank was entitled to a royalty of £100 per table, payable on the remaining 80% of sales of the infringing tables.

As for Harveys, the Court did not agree with Alfrank that Harveys would have bought the two dining tables from its’ own range of dining furniture, irrespective of whether the infringing tables not been made available by Exclusive.

This case highlights a good result for the Claimant – specifically where unregistered EU and UK design rights have been infringed. However, one must be mindful that the additional damages were awarded strictly on the facts of this case.

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