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Wedding Dress Maker Pays Price for Infringing Ex-Boss’s Design Rights

WeddingThe fruits of employees’ creativity generally become the property of their employers and that seems only right as the former are paid for their work. The principle was upheld in one case concerning a dressmaker who, after being sacked from her job, illicitly copied a wedding dress design that she had been instrumental in creating.

The woman and her boss had worked closely together in designing the dress for a client. However, after they fell out, the woman was dismissed – unfairly, as an Employment Tribunal later found – and she set up a rival venture. The client swapped allegiance and it was the woman who ultimately made her dress.

In ruling that the woman had infringed her former employer’s design rights, the High Court found that essential features of the dress had been deliberately copied from the original design that she had worked on prior to her dismissal. The woman had also wrongly authorised a manufacturer to make china figurines featuring the dress. The ruling entitled her former employer either to compensation or to all the profits that the woman had made from her acts of infringement.