Design Rights in ‘Bondage Frame’ Infringed

Posted: 31st July 2013

In a case which reveals the almost unimaginable range of products that can be the subject of intellectual property disputes, the Patents County Court has found infringement of design rights subsisting in a metal frame used to suspend bondage enthusiasts during unusual sexual activities.

A businessman who owned a fetish products company which marketed a frame for use in bondage had sued a mechanical engineer and metalwork specialist in respect of his manufacture and sale of a similar product. The two men had had business dealings in the past and the engineer had originally built a number of frames and supplied them to the businessman prior to a falling out between them.

The engineer later sought to market the frames on his own account. Ruling in favour of the businessman, the Court rejected the engineer’s plea that the design and construction of the disputed frames was ‘essentially his own venture’. The Court found that he had been commissioned and paid to design and build the frames by the businessman and that the latter’s company owned the design rights therein.

Arguments that the businessman, or his company, also owned design rights in a sling used to support bodies in conjunction with the frame were rejected by the Court. However, the ruling meant that the engineer was liable to pay damages in respect of his infringement of the frame design or account to the businessman for any profits that had been generated by the infringement.

UWUG Limited v Ball. Case Number: CC11P04024