Light at end of tunnel in design dispute

By Mark Story

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Bay designer David Trubridge has won a major copyright battle and has had copycat lights pulled from stores across Australia.

Mr Trubridge, whose studio and gallery is based in Whakatu, said he complained last year about "Australia's lax copyright laws" and how his company's light designs like Coral were being copied and sold by "unscrupulous dealers".

"Well, we took them on and with the amazing help of the legal team at K & L Gates, we succeeded," he said. "At least eight companies who were selling the fakes have stopped. This includes two major national retailers and several dedicated replica retailers."

The designer said initially several of them ignored demands to "cease and desist". Legal proceedings were then filed in the Federal Court.

The result is that thousands of replica pendants were destroyed or taken off the market.

"And here is the amazing part - we have been able to cover all our legal expenses with the monies paid out in settlement.

Because our initial demand was ignored, our costs went up and so did our demands for damages.

"If they had agreed to settle at the outset it would have cost them a lot less. Many of those to whom we wrote initially argued that because my designs were not registered they were legally entitled to sell copies of them, but K&L Gates put forward a novel argument that countered this claim.

"This has hurt both us and our loyal network of distributors. But now that it is over we hope to see our sales in Australia bounce back to where they were before the fakes entered the market."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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