Harrods hit by copyright writ over tree decorations

Pressure group Anti Copying in Design has issued a writ to Harrods claiming design rights, on behalf of Christmas decoration company Saint Nicolas, for three products on the retailer’s shelves.

ACID claims the products – tree decorations depicting a red telephone box, a Life Guard and a Scots Guard – have been copied from products supplied for the previous seven years by London company Saint Nicolas.

ACID lawyer Simon Clark says that last year Harrods cancelled the order and stocked almost identical products supplied from the Far East.

“The 1988 Copyright Act definition of design applies to any output of shape or configuration, whether internal or external, of the whole or part of an article. We believe the products we have identified have been substantially copied and think we have a good case,” says Clark.

“We wrote to Harrods prior to issuing the writ and it said we should take it up with its new suppliers. But last year the same thing happened with a Big Ben product, also by Saint Nicolas, and Harrods changed it – so it knows there is a problem,” he adds.

A spokesman for Harrods says: “They are simply representations of London life… therefore not something anyone can say they own the copyright to.” ACID’s case hinges on the argument that it is the representation of the artefacts, not the artefacts themselves, which are similar.

The episode follows hot on the heels of another ACID writ issued to Boots before Christmas, on behalf of Warwickshire bathroom company Bliss. This claims the retailer is stocking two products, a two-tier soap dish and a recipe book stand, very similar to ones supplied by Bliss the previous year. As in the Harrods case, Boots ceased ordering from Bliss and proceeded to stock similar products from a different supplier, says Clark.

“Boots has said it is investigating the matter, although it claims there are differences between the new products and the Bliss ones. I think the differences are insignificant,” says Clark. Staff at Boots were unavailable for comment.

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