Own-it | Intellectual Property Know-How for Creative Businesses

Aston Martin issues a claim in the High Court to protect its rights

Aston Martin issues a claim in the High Court to protect its rights

Published: 04.02.15 at 16:32

A recent claim made by luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin at the High Court underlines the need for design focused brands to ensure that they have adequate protection in place for their creations and branding specifically in relation to confidentiality, copyright and trademarks.

Aston Martin Lagonda claim that the Envisage Group, a UK based company who provided designs for them, have breached their confidentiality and copied their designs. The alleged breaches occurred when Envisage started designing and manufacturing its own bespoke luxury cars which Aston Martin claim utilises its own designs and confidential information. Aston Martin also claim that Envisage have infringed their trademarks by using a logo which is identical to theirs and therefore likely to cause consumer confusion on the part of the consumer.

Trademark registration provides the most stringent protection for brand identity, for example the registration of brand names and/or logos. Aston Martin relies on such registration to prevent infringement of its logo.

Aston Martin relies on certificates of confidentiality signed by the employees of Envisage to establish confidence. Confidentiality agreements or non-disclosure agreements are an essential part of protecting sensitive commercial data including designs. Aston Martin will also look to establish that more generally a nature of confidentiality exists owing to the subject of the confidentiality i.e. the designs and data and the parties' relationship. Reliance on this latter strand to establish confidentiality can often be difficult. It is therefore most prudent to have a signed agreement in place before the disclosure of any confidential information.

The value of copyright in designs is at the heart of this case. The damage which Aston Martin claim results or is likely to result from Envisage's conduct is ultimately damage to the value of its copyright as well as the overall brand. This case concerns iconic car design but the same principles apply to fashion sector and other product based industries. Protecting copyright interests from the outset - both in-house and otherwise should not be overlooked. To do so can be rather costly especially, as in this case, where the claiming party resorts to litigation. The form of protection required will vary depending on what you are trying to protect and who you are dealing with for example, are you dealing with an employee or a supplier and its employees. In any event, this is something that needs to be carefully considered before creative works are carried out by those concerned.

This case is a reminder for all design led brands in each sector of the necessity to have your house in order in terms of rights protection to ensure that, should you need to enforce them, you can point to a trail of supporting documentation and registration where applicable.

Written by Francesca Shepherd, Solicitor at James Ware Schoenfeld Stephenson

Click here to view the original article on JWSS's blog.

Click here to view article from 'The Telegraph'

Photography: some rights reserved by Falcon Photography

 

Please note that this article discusses the legal position in the UK at the time of publication. It provides general information only but is not to be regarded as legal advice. You must take advice from a specialist lawyer in relation to your specific circumstances. Further, you should seek additional legal advice when dealing with parties based in other parts of the world or works originating from other parts of the world as the legal position may vary.

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