15 July 2024, 02:57
By Furniture News Mar 28, 2022

Wholesaler wins IP legal battle

A furniture wholesaler advised by specialist law firm Taylors Solicitors has won a court battle against a rival which copied the registered designs of three items.

Taylors partner Tony Catterall issued proceedings in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court on behalf of Coventry-based ASR Interiors against AWS Trading.

ASR, a family company founded in 2009, designs and sells original furniture designs to retailers across the UK. The business is a member of Anti Copying in Design (ACID), a trade association for manufacturers and designers.

In December 2018, the company registered the designs for a mirrored sideboard featuring thousands of tiny diamond-shaped crystals encased in glass and bevelled mirrored panels, and an angel-wing mirror that boasts wings finished with crushed diamond.

A month later, ASR registered the design for a scoop-back, velvet-covered dining chair with diamond quilting.

Taylors became involved in October 2020 when ASR discovered a number of companies had copied its designs.

One of them was AWS, a furniture wholesaler based in Oldham, which sold copied items at a reduced price. The company had sought to defend the claim, which was brought to trial on behalf of ASR.

The judge who heard the case, Mr Recorder Douglas Campbell QC, rejected claims by AWS that the designs lacked originality and that its own products were available before the application date of ASR’s registered designs.

In his written judgement, he found that AWS had fabricated documents to support its defence and that witness evidence from AWS was unreliable. Accordingly AWS had infringed ASR’s registered designs.

The judge granted an injunction preventing AWS from selling the infringing products and awarded damages to ASR, with the amount to be assessed at a later hearing. He also disallowed the caps usually applicable to recoverable costs and ordered AWS to make an initial payment on account of ASR’s legal costs of £25,000.

ASR director Salman Rahim says: “I am delighted that ASR has been vindicated by these court proceedings. We take pride in the originality of our furniture designs, and it was distressing for me to see AWS put forward a fabricated defence which, but for the skill of our solicitors and counsel, might have been accepted by the court. AWS will now pay the penalty with damages as well as a costs liability.”

Tony Catterall comments: “ASR prides itself on its original designs which it produces and sells to retailers across the UK. We are pleased to have succeeded in this claim on its behalf.

"It is difficult enough for designers to protect their rights against infringers seeking a shortcut into the commercial benefit of successful designs, without also having to cope with forged documents and falsified evidence. This successful claim illustrates that intellectual property rights can be protected through the courts, and ASR is to be commended for holding its nerve in taking the case to trial.”

A second case against another company which allegedly copied ASR’s designs is due to be heard in April.

Pictured: One of ASR Interiors' original registered designs

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