Intellectual property reform

    150 150 Daniel Fountain
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    Leading intellectual property (IP) lawyer, Tony Catterall believes that the home furnishing sector could benefit dramatically from a radical reform in intellectual property law.The economic recession has heightened the issue of plagiarism in the industry and it is an increasing problem which Tony and his team at Taylors Solicitors has been battling for the past 20 years.

    Tony, Partner at Taylors said: “IP is a major asset to any organisation but particularly to SME’s and owner managed businesses. In the past it had been difficult and costly for smaller design houses to enforce or defend their designs.

    “The potentially huge cost implications involved in protecting designs was significant enough to prevent the smaller home furnishing firms fight anyone unlawfully copying them.”

    The reform of the Patents County Court makes it easier for anyone to protect their IP, through new costs and procedural rules aimed at helping SME’s. Trials under this new regime are expected to last no more than two days and costs are capped.

    Tony explains: “This streamlining comes as there will be no formal witness statements and cross examination will be limited. The whole process will be driven by the Court to ensure speedy and economical dispute resolution.”

    Taylors have recently acted on behalf of Hertfordshire-based Ashley Wilde and successfully forced Primark into a settlement over a copyright infringement of Ashley Wilde’s well known and highly successful ‘Boulevard’ design. Tony has also secured a favourable settlement for Derbyshire-based Belfield Furnishings in a copyright dispute with Global Textiles (UK) Limited.

    “It is pleasing that those claims were brought to an early and successful conclusion for our regular clients Ashley Wilde and Belfield. Reputable design houses and converters need to follow their example and stand up to infringers rather than turning a blind eye.

    Taylors Solicitors regularly acts for over 200 companies in the home furnishings industry including Ashley Wilde Group, Graham and Brown, Rectella and Turner Bianca. The firm’s main specialism is intellectual property law.

    Tony Catterall created legal precedent over ten years ago in the House of Lords when acting for international company Designers Guild, setting the factors for determining the degree of similarity required for copyright infringement of furnishing designs. This case has assisted many clients of Taylors who invest heavily in their design studios to obtain protection from being copied.

    Daniel Fountain / 15.05.2011

    Editor, Hotel Designs


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