Christmas jumper dispute ends up in High Court

Irish company alleges Littlewoods infringed design for a man’s Christmas jumper

Wed, Dec 11, 2013, 19:11

An Irish company has brought a High Court action alleging online retailers Littlewoods have infringed its design for a man’s Christmas jumper featuring a snowman and Christmas trees.

Mr Justice Sean Ryan said he would deal with the matter next week, having established the jumper at issue “is not like the one I bought on Sunday”.

Zatori Results Ltd employs 87 people and claims Littlewoods have damaged its business by allegedly breaching its intellectual property rights by offering for sale a Christmas jumper with an almost identical design to one first offered for sale by Zatori in 2012.

Zatori says its design includes a snowman in the middle of the front of a jumper with stars surrounding it and including a moon and sleigh. Its design also features two Christmas trees on either side of the snowman, set against a navy blue background.

The company claims a jumper being offered for sale on various websites is almost identical to its jumper.

Zatori, based at the National Enterprise Park in Portlaoise, claims, as a result of the defendants actions its sales of Christmas jumpers are down 75 per cent from last year.

Founded by businessman Ronan O’Brien, Zatori has initiated High Court proceedings against Shop Direct Ireland Ltd, trading as Littlewoods Ireland, and its UK-based parent Shop Direct Uk Ltd.

The company is seeking an injunction preventing the defendant continuing to offer the jumper for sale. It is also claiming damages for alleged infringement of its unregistered design rights in regard to the Zatori jumper.

Today, Mr Justice Ryan granted leave to serve short notice of the proceedings on the defendants and returned the matter to early next week. The jumper at the centre of the dispute was “not like the one I bought on Sunday”, he observed.

In an affidavit, Mr O’Brien said he had in March 2012 designed a men’s Christmas jumper for the 2012 market.

The design included a snowman in the middle of the front of a jumper with stars surrounding it and two Christmas trees on either side, set against a navy blue background. The jumper, made of a mix of good quality wool and acrylic, was sold through its website clothing.ie, was a huge success in 2012 and was one of the top selling Christmas jumpers on Amazon.co.uk.

He had noticed on the defendants websites last month they had commenced selling a Christmas jumper “almost identical” to the jumper he had designed, he said. It appeared the features of the Zatori jumper were copied with some slight differences, he said.

He also said the defendant’s garment is made of an inferior material, does not include the moon and sleigh and has apparently been selling very well. Zatori had had to lower the price of its jumper in order to compete, he added.

Zatori’s lawyers had entered into correspondence with the defendants about the alleged infringement but, despite being told his complaint was being investigated, the defendants had offered no satisfactory response or given an undertaking to desist offering the offending garment for sale on any of its websites.

As a result, Zatori was left with no option other than to initiate High Court proceedings, he said.

Irish Times News



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