Bottle design claim ruled out

A beer bottle importer has failed in its attempt to claim infringement of unregistered design rights over the packaging of the cider TNT.

Round Imports had argued that bottle manufacturer PLM Redfearn was infringing its rights by selling the same bottle type to other customers. It claimed that the manufacturer owed 0.5p per bottle on hundreds of millions of bottles sold in the UK since 1991.

But a High Court judge this month ruled in favour of PLM Redfearn and its lawyer Pinsent Curtis, after finding that the design of the TNT bottle was commonplace among other bottles and so could not be considered original and protected by unregistered design rights.

The judge reached the conclusion by considering whether the TNT bottle – commissioned by Round Imports – was identical to other bottles around at the time. After deciding that it was different, he considered the degree of difference and concluded it was insufficient to warrant protection.

Pinsent Curtis assistant solicitor Zoe Fahy says the judgement is important for designers and manufacturers of packaging because of the emphasis it gave to the degree of difference between the design in question and others on the market.

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