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M&S supplier wins copyright battle

Marks & Spencer supplier Lee Ann Fashions has won a copyright case against John Kaldor Fabricmaker UK, which alleged one of its designs had been used without permission for a Per Una dress.

Lee Ann Fashions was approached by M&S in August 2012 to pitch fabrics for the spring 13 Per Una collection. Lee Ann Fashions offered a number of samples including one using a design called the JK Fabric, which came from John Kaldor. However, this design was not chosen by the retailer.

The following spring John Kaldor noticed a dress sold in the Per Una collection that looked similar to its fabric sample. It sued Lee Ann Fashions for copyright and community unregistered design right infringement.

To win on copyright infringement, John Kaldor needed to show Lee Ann Fashions had copied a whole or substantial part of the JK Fabric. 

But Lee Ann Fashions’ designer had archived records of her print creations and was able to recount how she independently created the design by referring to the records she had kept. On this basis, the judge found design had not been copied.

Commenting on the case, Stephen Sidkin, partner at law firm Fox Williams, said: “The judgment highlights the importance of creating a design pack in respect of each design and, equally importantly, ensuring that it is full and up to date.”

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