Plaid copyright infringed

Posted: 9th October 2012

A woollen mill, world famous for its luxury fabrics, has triumphed in a High Court breach of copyright claim after trade rivals manufactured and sold an offending copy of one of its iconic plaid designs.

Abraham Moon TweedAbraham Moon & Sons Limited, based in Guiseley, West Yorkshire, has guarded its reputation as a maker of top-end fabrics since the company's foundation in 1837. It counts Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry, Lacosts, Daks and Paul Smith amongst its prestige customers.

One of the company's upholstery fabrics, called ‘Skye Sage’, is a large plaid pattern in muted light brown, purple and grey shades, with brighter purple and maroon highlights redolent of the grouse moor.

The company took legal action when it spotted a very similar fabric, called ‘Spring Meadow’, on sale in the stores of one of its best customers. The material was marketed by Clitheroe, Lancashire-based firm, Art of the Loom, and woven by Huddersfield-based NB Fabrics Limited.

Judge Colin Birss QC opened the way for Abraham Moon to seek damages or an account of profits for breach of copyright when he ruled that ‘Skye Sage’ was the product of considerable artistic skill and that ‘Spring Meadow’ was a copy of the original design.

He said that the pattern of lines and blocks of colour in the two fabrics were ‘virtually identical’ and that, whilst the colours used were not exactly the same, they were ‘very similar’. Finding Art of the Loom's partners liable, he said that the firm must have known or had reason to believe that ‘Spring Meadow’ infringed Abraham Moon’s copyright. Also finding NB Fabrics Limited liable, he dismissed claims that ‘Spring Meadow’ was designed independently of ‘Skye Sage’.