G-Star Raw jeans case cuts through unregistered design rights

G-Star Raw jeans case cuts through unregistered design rights

John Coldham, director in the intellectual property team at Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co, points out that despite copying being considered to be endemic in the fashion industry, G-Star Raw v Rhodi is the first High Court designs case concerning fashion for some time and provides useful guidance on, among other things, the burden of proof of copying.

Original news

G-Star Raw Cv v Rhodi Ltd and others [2015] EWHC 216 (Ch), [2015] All ER (D) 113 (Feb)

The claimant clothing company brought proceedings against the defendants, alleging that they had been involved in infringement of the UK unregistered design rights in the design of a pair of jeans. The Chancery Division held that, on the evidence, the claim against the first, second, fourth and fifth defendants would succeed.

What was the background to this case?

The case concerned the design of jeans. G-Star brought the action for infringement of design right in its Arc pant against Rhodi (the owner of the ‘Voi’ brand of jeans).

G-Star is one of Europe’s leading denim fashion brands. Its designers created a jean design with emphasised, stretched, bent (3-D) knees with an ‘anti-fit’ effect, an extreme amount of fabric around the knee—a move away from G-Star’s successful Elwood design from the mid-1990s. G-Star alleged that various Rhodi styles were made to the design of the Arc Pant and, as such, infringed G-Star’s UK unregistered design rights. Rhodi contended that their styles were created ‘without reference to the Arc Pant’ and that they were ‘just following general fashion trends in the denim market, and to the extent that their styles have similarities to the Arc Pant this is due to them sharing generic features which had…become common’.

The trial took place in October 2014, with the judge, Richard Spearman QC, reserving judgment until February 2015. Four members of the Rhodi group of companies were found to have infringed G-Star’s design rights,

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