31 August 2017

UK court serves up decision on kitchen design battle

The English High Court has cleared kitchen manufacturer DeVOL of any wrongdoing in a design dispute against rival Neptune.

The case centres on a range of kitchens called ‘Chichester’ which Neptune licensed to DeVOL in 2008.

That year the first Chichester was sold, and the range had a turnover of £16,000 ($21,000) a month.

But the agreement finished in 2010 when “the relationship between the parties broke down, for reasons which are not relevant to these proceedings”.

During the agreement, DeVOL created its own range which it sold alongside the Chichester collection, calling it the ‘Shaker range’.

This led to a complaint in 2015 by Neptune, which claimed its Chichester range had been infringed.

Henry Carr, the presiding judge, accepting DeVOL’s argument that the new model was based on the ‘Classic range’, made by DeVOL, as opposed to Neptune’s Chichester range.

However, he added that he “does not accept that the design of the Shaker range was entirely uninfluenced by, and owed nothing to, DeVOL’s knowledge of the Chichester range”.

But while Carr found that some aspects of the design, including the shapes of cupboards and wine racks, were similar, “the Shaker drawer unit creates a different overall impression to the registered design and does not infringe”.

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