Button Moon creator Ian Allen was awarded damages after he discovered the treasured images of his children’s show being used on unofficial merchandise.
Robert Redshaw had contacted Ian Allen about a licence to create Button Moon on mugs and t-shirts but Ian Allen had refused. In 2009 Ian discovered mugs and t-shirts bearing strikingly similar designs to his own being sold via eBay and Amazon by Mr Redshaw.
Even though the name Button Moon wasn’t used and Mr Redshaw claimed he had intended to create a parody of it, the designs were so similar that the Patents County Court found him in breach of copyright. Mr Redshaw was ordered to pay damages of £3,736 and Mr Allen’s legal costs of £3,421.
Copyright is a legal right granting the creator of original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution. In this case being able to prove that the designs were so similar to the original work enabled Mr Allen to sue for infringement.
This case serves as a reminder that defences of parody are likely to fail where a substantial part of the copyright protected work has been copied. It is always preferable to enter into the appropriate licences when using Intellectual Property belonging to other people.
A current case of copyright infringement that hasn’t reached its conclusion is that of American furniture brand Emeco who is suing Ikea for allegedly copying a chair design. Emeco has filed a design right and copyright infringement case against the Swedish furniture giant at Munich District Court in Germany and a hearing is scheduled for September. We will be watching this case with interest as it evolves.
If you think your copyright has been infringed either directly or, as in Ian Allen’s case, by strikingly similar products being produced, you will need legal advice on how to proceed. The team of Intellectual Property Lawyers at Slater and Gordon are experts when it comes to copyright. You can call on freephone 0800 916 9052 or contact us online and we will call you back.
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