3 February 2020CopyrightRory O'Neill

UK homeware brand infringed fabric copyright, court rules

A UK IP court has drawn on last year’s Cofemel  ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), in ruling that a British homeware brand copied a former supplier’s designs.

According to the decision, issued by the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) last week, Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) infringed the copyright for a jacquard fabric design.

Response Clothing, based in Lancashire, supplied womens’ tops to EWM from 2009 to 2012, featuring a wave design woven into the fabric.

The business relationship soured when Response attempted to raise the price it was charging EWM for the tops, prompting the Carlisle-based homeware brand to seek an alternative supplier.

According to the judgment, EWM then distributed a sample of Response’s fabric to alternative suppliers, inviting them to produce a similar design.

Response sued for copyright infringement, arguing that numerous tops sold by EWM since 2012 copied its original jacquard wave design.

According to the IPEC, although EWM did not copy “every detail” of the original wave fabric, each of the accused products infringed a “substantial part of [Response’s] design”.

The court said that only by adopting an overly “narrow view” of IP rights could EWM have thought that there was no risk of infringing Response’s copyright.

The decision drew, in part, on the CJEU’s ruling in Cofemel v G-Star last September. That judgment clarified that originality was the only criterion for whether a design was eligible for copyright protection, and that artistic merit could not be taken into account.

EWM had argued that the wave fabric was not eligible for copyright protection because Response had failed to submit evidence that it was its own original design.

The IPEC rejected this line, concluding that, under Cofemel, “if no sufficiently similar design existed before it was created, it must have been the expression of the author's free and creative choices”.

Did you enjoy reading this story?  Sign up to our free daily newsletters and get stories like this sent straight to your inbox.

Today's top stories:

Trump executive order targets online counterfeiters, e-commerce platforms

Toymaker Kellytoy sues Ty over ‘Puffies’ plush toy

Cox calls $1.1 billion damages award ‘shockingly excessive’

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at

More on this story

12 September 2019   The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled today, September 12 that originality is the only criterion required for a design to be protectable by copyright.
21 December 2020   Austrian shoe company Giesswein Walkwaren infringed a registered community design held by sustainable fashion brand Rothy’s but did not copy its unregistered community design, in a dispute over Giesswein's “pointy flat” range.