ASR Interiors secures copying victory over AWS Trading

ASR Interiors has won a copying case against fellow furniture wholesaler AWS Trading. ASR is bringing a second case against a different company next month.

In December 2018, ASR registered the designs for a mirrored sideboard featuring thousands of tiny diamond-shaped crystals encased in glass and bevelled mirrored panels, and an angel wing mirror whose wings are finished with crushed diamond. A month later, ASR registered the design for a scoop back, velvet-covered dining chair with diamond quilting (pictured).

In October 2020 ASR, a member of Anti Copying in Design, hired Taylors Solicitors after discovering a number of companies had copied its designs.

One of them was AWS. The company had sought to defend the claim, which was brought to trial on behalf of ASR. The judge who heard the case, Recorder Douglas Campbell QC, rejected claims by AWS that the designs lacked originality and that its own products were available before the application date of ASR’s registered designs. In his written judgement, he found that AWS had fabricated documents to support its defence and that witness evidence from AWS was unreliable. Accordingly AWS had infringed ASR’s registered designs.

The judge granted an injunction preventing AWS from selling the infringing products and awarded damages to ASR, with the amount to be assessed at a later hearing. He also disallowed the caps usually applicable to recoverable costs and ordered AWS to make an initial payment on account of ASR’s legal costs of £25,000.

‘I am delighted that ASR has been vindicated by these court proceedings. We take pride in the originality of our furniture designs, and it was distressing for me to see AWS put forward a fabricated defence which, but for the skill of our solicitors and counsel, might have been accepted by the court. AWS will now pay the penalty with damages as well as a costs liability,’ says Salman Rahim, ASR Interiors director.

‘ASR prides itself on its original designs which it produces and sells to retailers across the UK. We are pleased to have succeeded in this claim on its behalf. It is difficult enough for designers to protect their rights against infringers seeking a shortcut into the commercial benefit of successful designs, without also having to cope with forged documents and falsified evidence. This successful claim illustrates that intellectual property rights can be protected through the courts, and ASR is to be commended for holding its nerve in taking the case to trial,’ says Tony Catterall, Taylors Solicitors partner and head of intellectual property.

A second case against another company which allegedly copied ASR’s designs is due to be heard in April.

During the case a witness called by AWS who was allowed to give evidence via video link appeared to be driving a van, with the camera of a mobile device on the passenger seat. The judge stopped the hearing and ordered the witness to go to a secure location to resume giving evidence, which he did – firstly appearing to be in a busy, noisy office and then apparently in a store room but without his witness statement on him. Counsel for AWS eventually abandoned the attempted evidence, and the judge gave no weight to the statement of the witness.

ASR Interiorsoriginal design

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