Littlewoods handed unwanted seasonal lawsuit


Online retailer Littlewoods is facing a lawsuit from an Irish company following a dispute over the design for a Christmas jumper.

Portlaoise-based Zatori Results Ltd claims Littlewoods has infringed its design by manufacturing a jumper almost identical to one it sold last year.

It has taken the case to the Irish High Court, where it is expected to be heard within the next week.

The disputed design includes a snowman in the middle of the jumper surrounded by stars and a moon and sleigh. It has two Christmas trees on either side of the snowman against a blue background.

Zatori, which employs 87 people, sells items, including clothing online and says Littlewoods is offering a similar jumper for sale on various websites.

In an affidavit, on Wednesday December 11, Ronan O’Brien, the founder of Zatori, said he had designed the jumper for last year’s Christmas market.

He noted that on the defendant’s websites they had started selling a jumper which, despite having slight differences, including the omission of the moon and sleigh, was almost identical to the Zatori design.

The original jumper, made of a mix of good quality wool and acrylic, was sold through its website and was one of the top selling Christmas jumpers on online retailer Amazon.

Sarah Byrt, partner at Mayer Brown LLP, in London, said Zatori was relying on its unregistered design right, an EU-wide right [EU Council Regulation 6/2002], which lasts for three years and helps those in the fashion sector protect seasonal designs which don’t need the extra cost involved in getting a registration.

“Since the Littlewoods jumper apparently doesn’t include the moon and reindeer-drawn sleigh which also feature in the Zatori design, Zatori will have to show that its rights are nevertheless being infringed by arguing that the Littlewoods jumper gives the same ‘overall impression’ on the ‘informed user’,” Byrt said.

Zatori is seeking an interim injunction preventing the defendant from continuing to offer the jumper for sale. It is also seeking damages for the alleged infringement of its unregistered design rights.

Byrt added that, given the seasonal nature of the product, Zatori was using an “emergency procedure”.

“It looks as though the decision on an interim injunction, which will come before the Irish court in the next few days, if successful, it would order Littlewoods to stop selling straight away,” Byrt said.

Mr Justice Sean Ryan said he would deal with the matter within the next week.

Littlewoods and Zatori both declined to comment.

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