The UK Court of Appeal has found cleaning product manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser not guilty of design infringement against Procter & Gamble.
The design industry has welcomed the ruling as ‘groundbreaking’, saying that it will help clarify protection laws for original designs.
P&G sued Reckitt Benckiser in February 2006 over the container design of air freshener Air Wick Odour Stop, claiming that it infringed the Registered Community Design that it had previously obtained for its Febreze product. In November last year, the High Court ruled in favour of P&G, finding that the designs were too similar.
Reckitt & Benckiser appealed against the decision. In Lord Justice Jacob’s statement, issued today, he said that there was sufficient difference of detail between the two that Reckitt Benckiser’s Air Wick design does not infringe P&G’s design rights.
Anti Copying In Design chief executive Dids MacDonald says, ‘This is a groundbreaking ruling, because it now allows people to talk about points of difference in design rather than just points of similarity. Lord Justice Jacob signposted a number of differences between the two designs, including the shape of the head of the Reckitt sprayer and the tapering off of the can. This precedent will help the design rights laws to progress.’