In this recent copyright infringement claim relating to celebrity bedding ranges, Her Honour Judge Clarke sitting in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) dismissed a claim for copyright infringement on the basis that there were significant differences between the claimant’s bedding and the defendant’s duvet covers. 

The defendant in this case, BCPL Ltd, is owned by Caprice Bourret, the well-known model and television star.  BCPL makes and sells bedding ranges under the “By Caprice Home” brand.  It was two of the products within this range which were at the heart of this dispute.  The claimant, Ashley Wilde, owned the copyright in a duvet cover which was part of the “Kylie Minogue at Home” range. 

Ashley Wilde complained that BCPL’s bedding featured a similar design of a repeating pattern of scallop-style pleats. 

In dismissing Ashley Wilde’s claim, the Judge said that there was no evidence that anyone at BCPL had seen Ashley Wilde’s duvet cover and also that the differences between the Ashley Wilde’s and BCPL’s products were extensive. 

This copyright infringement claim is also noteworthy because the Judge was critical of the way in which Ashley Wilde had instructed an expert, Mr Herbert, to produce advice to support Ashley Wilde’s claim.  This was because the expert was originally asked to provide an informal opinion based on Ashley Wilde’s instructions and which only asked the expert to look at similarities between the two bedding ranges and not differences which might have undermined Ashley Wilde’s claim. 

Having received Mr Herbert’s formal advice, Ashley Wilde then applied to adduce formal expert evidence from Mr Herbert and Mr Herbert turned his informal opinion into a formal report.  When Mr Herbert was cross-examined at trial, it became clear that Mr Herbert’s report had downplayed the differences between the parties’ respective designs.  The Judge highlighted the fact that Mr Herbert should have recognised the potential difficulties of moving from a role in which he was specifically asked to identify evidence that would assist the claimant’s claim to a role where he was a court-appointed independent expert who was required to be impartial and objective and whose overriding objective was to the court.  As a result, the judge rejected Mr Herbert’s opinions when reaching her decision in the case to dismiss Ashley Wilde’s claim. 

Our specialist intellectual property disputes team routinely advises on a broad range of disputes relating to copyright along with other intellectual property disputes relating to trademarks, patents, confidential information and data protection.  The team is also highly skilled at advising on design rights and reputation management issues and are regularly instructed by clients from the arts, media, textile and clothing sectors in the UK and internationally.  If you need advice on copyright or other intellectual property infringements, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the team today.    

Ashley Wilde Group Ltd v BCPL Ltd – copyright infringement claim