Taylors Solicitors team fights off copyright claim for upmarket fabric firm

A luxury home textiles company advised by Blackburn-based commercial law firm Taylors Solicitors has successfully seen off a copyright infringement claim from a minority shareholder who is a well-known fabric designer.

Copyright specialist Tony Catterall led the Taylors team who acted for Cheshire company Arley House in defending proceedings issued by Barry Ward in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court.

Mr Ward alleged that he owned more than 60 designs that he created for Arley House, and that the company had no right to use them.

Taylors secured a wholly favourable outcome for Arley House within just three months of being instructed.

Following service of a robust defence and counterclaim by Taylors, Mr Ward accepted that copyright in the six best-selling designs was owned outright by Arley House and that it had a perpetual, royalty-free licence to make and sell the rest of the designs that Mr Ward had created for the company.

As part of the arrangement, Mr Ward also agreed to transfer his minority shareholding in Arley House to its managing director Adrian Tratalos.

Arley House, an independent, boutique design house based in Ashley, near Altrincham, specialises in creating luxury fabric designs for the commercial and residential markets.

Mr Catterall, head of Taylors’ intellectual property team and an internationally-recognised authority on copyright, said: “We are very pleased that our advice to stand up to Mr Ward and fight this claim was fully justified. We were instructed after other solicitors advised that the company had a weak case.

“This ownership issue is a problem that we have successfully addressed for clients on a number of occasions, including the leading authority on ownership of commissioned copyright, Clearsprings Management Limited v BusinessLinx Limited, a case where the copyright was computer software.”

Mr Tratalos said: “We have achieved a result that goes well beyond our initial expectations and we are delighted with the outcome, which enables us to continue marketing many of our successful designs that had been put in jeopardy by the claimant’s unfounded allegations in these proceedings.

“We are extremely grateful to Taylors, and in particular to Tony Catterall for his recommendation that we take a firm line in defending this claim.”

The case follows a successful outcome for Taylors Solicitors in a recent copyright infringement claim brought on behalf of Portfolio Home, a home textiles supplier based in Denton, Greater Manchester.

Portfolio Home’s innovative and best-selling design Orkney was copied by Manor Park Trading, which marketed its fake product as ‘Aztec’ on online marketplaces.

Manor Park admitted liability before trial in 2019 and submitted to injunctions restraining sale of ‘Aztec’. In September, the company was ordered to pay five-figure damages to Portfolio Home for lost profits, plus a costs contribution.

Taylors’ renowned IP team has worked with businesses in the home furnishings industry for more than 30 years. Taylors is the only north west law firm to be appointed as a legal affiliate of ACID – Anti Copying in Design – a trade association for manufacturers and designers.