Shoosmiths' intellectual property and IT group is celebrating the successful defence of a trio of top fashion design names against copycat traders.
Using the new Community Design Right Regulations two specialists from the law firm, which has a Birmingham regional office, advised clothing brand Fenn Wright Manson and shoe designers Jeffery-West and Georgina Goodman in separate actions against copiers.
Partner Gary Assim, who heads Shoosmiths' retail brands group, hailed the conclusion of the cases as a major success for the team.
In the case of Fenn Wright Manson, the distinctive print design of a £200 skirt was found on an inferior £20 look-alike in a supermarket.
That was quickly stopped. Mr Assim and assistant solicitor Russell Woolford also helped to achieve a settlement for Ms Goodman after one of her shoe designs was copied for a high street name.
In the Jeffery-West case, action was secured after a distinctive moccasin shoe design appeared in a number of high street retail outlets and brands.
"The good news for designers is that new European laws are now making it faster and less costly for them to protect their work, by removing the copy from sale and recouping damages quickly," said Mr Woolford.
"What constitutes copying is a complicated issue and doesn't only apply to complete items. Individual elements of an item, and which make up part of its design, can also be protected either by registration or under the Community Design Rights Regulations.
"For example, in the case of Georgina Goodman there were features to the style which the high street retailer could not deny had been copied and the settlement offered was swift.
"These regulations give protection to designs which might be subject to copycatting, not just in the fashion arena but also in commercial and industrial design too.
"Making a decision to enforce design rights should always be considered carefully, but there are huge potential commercial benefits."
In the Fenn Wright Manson and Jeffery-West cases neither of the designs were registered. However, this is not necessarily critical to enforcement as unregistered design rights have been available throughout the EU since March 2002 and in the UK since 1989. Designs can be registered at any time in the first year of their creation.