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design right contempt referral serves as honest reminder

4 June 2013

The recent case of Utopia Tableware Ltd v BBP Marketing Ltd & Another concerned a fairly straightforward argument of infringement. Utopia makes and sells ‘Aspen’ beer glasses and BBP launched a very similar design in its new ‘Aspire’ range. Utopia accordingly filed for an injunction in the Patents County Court to stop BBP selling its Aspire products.

The injunction was allowed, but it later transpired that some of Utopia’s injunction evidence was fabricated. Two directors of Utopia tampered with emails, signed false witness statements and repeated lies in further statements. Despite BBP later admitting to copying the Utopia design, the court directed the Attorney General to consider the criminal charge of contempt of court. This is highly rare in IP cases, but Birss J felt that Utopia’s dishonesty was such that it amounted to serious contempt.

It goes without saying that you should never lie before the court, but Utopia is a stark reminder of just how important this is for any client.

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