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When a manufacturer of ceramics produced a range of products which even a judge in the High Court found it difficult to tell apart from those made by another firm without inspecting them closely, its defence that it had created the design independently looked fragile – and evidence that it was aware of the existing design made the likelihood that the infringement was innocent too remote for the Court to accept.
One interesting aspect of the case was that the profile of a former employee of the defendant firm on professional networking website LinkedIn played a part in uncovering evidence that undermined the 'innocent infringement' defence.
The staff member's profile jogged the memory of the claimant firm's managing director, and on further investigation he discovered that she had applied to his firm for a job. The interview notes retained with her application indicated that she would have attended a trade show at which the firm's ceramic products were shown.
The judge accepted that the appropriate remedy for the infringement was that the infringing firm should pay the profit earned on the relevant sales to the original designers and awarded them more than £31,000 in compensation.