Dunnes’ faces huge costs after fashion appeal fails

The lengthy legal battle between British fashion company Karen Millen and Dunnes Stores over the copying of designs has concluded with the dismissal by the Supreme Court of Dunnes’ appeal in the case.

Dunnes faces a substantial legal costs bill arising from the litigation.

The dismissal order, and a costs order against Dunnes, was made by the Supreme Court yesterday in light of a European Court of Justice ruling last month rejecting key arguments advanced by Dunnes.

Mr Justice John Murray, presiding, and sitting with Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell and Mr Justice Liam McKechnie, told lawyers for the sides it would give reasons for dismissal in a written judgment later.

A number of questions had been referred to the European court by the Supreme Court concerning interpretation of EU regulations on the protection of fashion designs.

In the High Court in 2008, Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan ruled that Dunnes, in offering for sale a black knit top and blue and brown shirts, infringed Karen Millen’s rights to unregistered community design under council regulation (EC) number 6/2002 in each of the three designs.

Dunnes appealed to the Supreme Court where it argued Karen Millen had failed to prove the individual character of the designs at issue and thus was not the holder of an unregistered community design.

In part of its judgment, the European Court of Justice said Karen Millen had put the shirt and top on sale in Ireland in 2005 and the items were purchased by representatives of Dunnes Stores.

“Dunnes subsequently had copies of the garments manufactured outside Ireland and put them on sale in its Irish stores in late 2006,” the court said.


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