G-Star has won its latest IP infringement case against Rhodi, the maker of Voi Jeans.
Deputy judge of the High Court’s Chancery Division Richard Spearman has ruled in favour of G-Star’s claim that nine Voi Jeans styles were copied from its Arc Pant design, which launched in 2010 and is still on the market.
The action was brought after G-Star learned in December 2012 of the existence of Voi Jeans’ ‘Jurien’ style, which it said showed similarities to the Arc Pant. It subsequently filed a claim relating to nine separate styles of jeans marketed under the Voi brand: Bowral, Capel, Carton, Ibaraki, Jurien, Maleny, Vale, Vobar and Winton.
G-Star told the court the cut of the Arc Pant was distinctive, featuring a low crotch and straight hip with an asymmetric tapered leg, which follows the natural shape of the body. Jourica Van Der Tol, a pattern maker at G-Star and one of the designers of the Arc Pant, said it took seven months to complete the design.
Rhodi, which was represented in the High Court by law firm Kuit Steinart Levy, denied copying the Arc Pant and argued that none of the nine styles in question were “substantially the same” as their G-Star counterpart.
Rhodi said the designs were created in late 2011 by following general fashion trends in the denim market, which may explain any overlap with the Arc Pant. However, it failed to prove the designs were commonplace, and the judge ruled it had infringed G-Star’s IP rights.
It follows an initial legal claim made by G-Star in 2010, in which G-Star claimed other Voi styles including Iceman and Mavrick copied the Arc Pant. A confidential settlement followed. G-Star subsequently objected to other Voi styles, before bringing the latest action.
The case was heard in the High Court on October 29-31 and November 3, 2014. G-Star is now seeking damages and costs, and a separate hearing to consider its claims will follow later this month.
John Coldham, director of Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co, representing G-Star, said: “Only one or two design right cases reach the High Court in any given year, and this year’s major design case is G-Star v Rhodi. The fact that it is the first High Court case about the designs of clothing for such a long time significantly increases its relevance to the fashion industry.”
Andy Lee, formerly of Kuit Steinart Levy, but who now represents Rhodi as senior associate Brandsmiths Solicitors, said: “This was a hard fought case. We are carefully considering the judgment and the consequences thereof including giving full consideration to the possibility of an appeal.”