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Not a 'fan' of minor differences

Intellectual Property Law News | July 2016

Hunter Pacific International Pty Ltd [“Hunter”] have been granted declaratory and injunctive relief against Martec Pty Ltd [“Martec”] in a recent Federal Court decision in Hunter Pacific International Pty Ltd v Martec Pty Ltd [2016] FCA 796.

Hunter claimed that Martec had imported and sold a ceiling fan hub which embodied a design that was substantially similar in its overall impression to that of Hunter’s previously registered design.

Registered designs are a protected intellectual property right under the Designs Act 2003 (Cth), which relate to a design’s unique appearance due to its shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation.

The Court held that Martec’s design was substantially similar in overall impression and contained significant and eye-catching similarities which overcame the obvious difference in the shape and configuration of Martec’s design. As a result, Hunter were granted the relief they sought, which meant that Martec were no longer permitted to import and sell their ceiling fan hub design in Australia.

Designers in creative or manufacturing fields must consider whether their design is substantially similar to that of an existing design belonging to a competitor or which has already been registered with IP Australia. Minor alterations to an existing registered design will not be sufficient to differentiate your design.

If you have a design with a unique appearance, you may wish to consider applying for registration with IP Australia to protect your rights before taking it to market.

If you wish to discuss any matters relating to designs or intellectual property please contact us at Forum Law Solicitors for a free 30 minute discussion on (02) 9560 3388 or in our friendly and professional office in Leichhardt where parking for clients is free.

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