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Dunnes-v-Karen Millen goes to Europe, the result isn't good for the Irish store

It’s a dispute over a woman’s top and shirt.

Sarah Morrissey models Savida fashions (not the designs at issue though).
Sarah Morrissey models Savida fashions (not the designs at issue though).
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

DUNNES STORES HAS been dealt a significant legal blow as the European Court of Justice has sided with fashion designer Karen Millen in a dispute over a shirt and top.

In a complicated judgment delivered this morning, the ECJ in essence ruled that designs don’t need to be specifically registered to benefit from legal protection.

The seven-year-long dispute will now return to the Irish Supreme Court which had been awaiting today’s judgement.

In 2005, Karen Millen designed blue and brown versions of a striped shirt and a black knitted top. Today’s judgement states that Dunnes Stores representatives purchased examples of those garments from a Karen Millen store.

Dunnes subsequently had copies of the items manufactured outside Ireland and put them on sale in its Irish stores in late 2006.

Karen Millen commenced legal proceedings in 2007 with the most recent judgement coming from Irish High Court in April which also sided with Karen Millen.

Dunnes had argued that Karen Millen hasn’t shown that they own an “unregistered community design” on the clothing items.

The ECJ were asked by the Irish Courts to examine a number of different issues about unregistered community designs. In each of the issues they were asked to look at, their findings were favourable to Karen Millen.

Dunnes appeals the earlier High Court decision which was being held pending today’s judgement.

Read the ECoJ judgement in full here >

Read: High Court asks Europe whether Facebook should be investigated over NSA >

Read: Europe struck wrong balance on ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling, says Google boss >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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