When it comes to our flagship Atlas Steel Lockers® and eXtreme Plastic Lockers®, design is a vital part of what we do. Both ranges are the product of months of research and development, backed by decades of experience in the storage industry. Each unique feature was crafted with care to provide schools, businesses and other organisations with a versatile personal storage solution that ticks every box.
We’re therefore pleased to announce that we’ve won an important court case against G-Force Europe and Fletcher European defending the design rights for our eXtreme Plastic Lockers.
In 2014, we noticed a range of lockers, manufactured and marketed by these two companies and sold under the name ‘SuperTuff’, that looked substantially similar to our own eXtreme Locker range. The units resembled our general design and appeared to use identical overall dimensions and proportions, the same oval shaped label indent and similar wedge shaped ribs on the sides.
The combination of these features is a vital part of what makes our eXtreme Lockers unique. Our dimensions were selected to offer maximum storage density without sacrificing versatility, while the distinctive oval shaped label holder and plastic ribs ensure a stylish finish and improve the unit’s durability.
After a two year legal process, His Honour Judge Hacon of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) upheld our position and ruled primary and secondary infringement of our design rights for the eXtreme locker as a whole and a number of specific features.
During the hearing, evidence also revealed the extent to which Fletcher European sought to copy directly from our innovative design. The company’s design proposal included:
‘It may be beneficial for us to duplicate the footprint of the Extreme lockers. Our locker could then be designed to interwork with the Extreme range, meaning existing users of their product could buy our version to seamlessly interwork alongside their existing lockers…’
‘If we decide to mirror the Extreme lockers size to enable our design to interwork we will need to replicate their stacking feature.’
‘The Extreme lockers have marked fixing points which act as a guide to show where the end-user should drill if they intend to bolt the lockers together. We need to incorporate similar markings into our design…’
All of which led Judge Hacon to summarise, ‘Taking the overall design of the lockers first, I have no doubt that the defendants copied the designs of the eXtreme lockers.’
We’d like to thank our barrister, Jessie Bowhill, solicitors, J.A. Kemp, and Stobbs IP for fighting tirelessly to defend our rights and win this case. We’d also like to congratulate Ms. Bowhill on her novel idea of submitting detailed comparative design charts, which received special mention from Judge Hacon and were recommended for all future litigants in design rights cases.
Going forward, we are determined to fight any similar challenge that might arise, protecting the creativity and dedication of our designers and the integrity of our superior products.