BODUM, the Switzerland-based kitchen appliance maker, won an Australian trademark-infringement suit that protects the design of its Chambord Coffee Plunger.
The ruling places the Bodum plunger into the realm of the products such as the Coca Cola bottle, whose distinctive shape is protected against copies.
Mallesons Stephen Jaques has successfully acted for the Bodum Group on the legal battle in the Full Federal Court of Australia. The outcome is possibly the first of its kind in Australia, the firm said, protecting the design's distinctive shape and features.
The Court found that DKSH Australia, which imported and sold a Euroline copy plunger, engaged in passing off and breached the Trade Practices Act, now the Australian Consumer Law.
The Mallesons team was led by intellectual property partner Katrina Rathie.
"The Court's decision is one of the first in Australia to protect the shape and features of a product from imitation. The judgment is very welcome news for Bodum and Australian designers. It recognises that Australian courts will protect well known products with attractive design, features and product shapes from copyists in appropriate circumstances even if they use another brand name to try and differentiate their copy," Rathie said.
"Australian businesses should beware of importing or selling imitations of designer products or be ready to face the consequences".
DKSH was ordered to pay Bodum’s legal costs of the court cases.
The appeals court ruling may end a six-year legal fight over DKSH's importing of the copy plunger.
In addition to Coke bottles, courts in jurisdictions outside Australia have ruled that Unilever NV (UNA)'s Jif Lemon and Numatic International's Henry vacuum cleaner are unique designs protected against copies, Rathie said.