Aspinal of London Reigns Supreme after £1.5m Copycat Battle

    150 150 Daniel Fountain
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    Anti Copying in Design (ACID) members Aspinal of London have secured a settlement after a long battle against copycat predators who marched off with their products, mimicked their website and shamelessly created a look-alike business, free riding on the back of Aspinal’s hard- fought- for brand identity and reputation. Despite denying liability, the defendants, in a confidential settlement, agreed not to trade in any capacity in the leather goods business for 10 years and to pass over all the assets including all the stock and their entire business to Aspinal. The case was described as being one of the most complex cases to come before the London Patents Court in fifty years. An outraged Iain Burton the Chairman and Founder of Aspinal said, “This was an extraordinary example of unscrupulous business persons believing that they could, with impunity, walk off with an entire business and create a copycat trading company using every aspect of Aspinal’s brand identity, including its look and feel, text, brand voice and communication platform. The case boiled down to infringement of intellectual copyrights and also breach of numerous common law torts. The case was, of course, difficult to pursue and the costs were quite extraordinary, but in building a brand for generations to come it is an important principle that a company’s intellectual property and its brand identity and its confidential information must be fiercely protected.”

    Aspinal of London, one of the UK’s fastest growing British luxury brands, had been forced to take action against individuals with whom they trustingly shared an office and warehouse premises. Without warning, they vacated the shared premises and promptly set about to manufacture a wide range of more than 100 designs, copying or mimicking Aspinal’s entire range of products and designs, the Aspinal “ look and feel” and the entire Aspinal business model. The case against the defendants was pursued in two parts. The first was breach of copyright, Community rights, registered designs and unregistered designs. The second was a case of common law tort, including the misuse of confidential information and inducement of Aspinal’s manufacturers to breach their agreements and exclusivity.

    Dids Macdonald, ACID’s Chief Executive said of the case, “The fact that we are not allowed to mention the other party’s names is a great shame but the message to Aspinal’s competitors (and others who may think about following the same business strategy), must be crystal clear, brand protection and the intellectual property that underpins the success of Aspinal of London is its lifeblood and any infringement whatsoever by third parties will be taken very seriously indeed in the future.”

    Daniel Fountain / 02.10.2010

    Editor, Hotel Designs


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