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the overall impression of clothes hangers

5 November 2012

Garment hanger manufacturer Mainetti, has succeeded in claim against Hangerlogic for infringement of three UK registered designs. The infringements were not identical, but trade buyers considered the infringements sufficiently similar to be interchangeable with the claimant’s products.

This drawing shows the first registered design with red overlap showing the shape of the first infringing article:

clothes hanger patent illustration

The judge found the first infringement took all of the features which characterised the claimant’s corresponding design and made the design original.

The defendant asked for a declaration that a second product, where the clips were given a waist, the thumb recess was rectangular, the clip tops flattened out and the neck of the hangar projected from the rail at 90° rather than 45° would not infringe. The judge refused, saying these changes were not significant enough to affect the overall impression.

Recent UK case law has shown the difficulties of enforcing registered designs, but this case demonstrates that in the right circumstances a registered design can be very valuable.

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