Thursday, 3 October 2019

Contempt and failure to comply with court order

Price and others v Flitcraft Ltd and others [2019] EWHC 2476 (Pat) is a straightforward (though rare - at least until recently, because just a few months ago we had Juul Labs, Inc & Anor v Quickjuul Ltd & Ors [2019] EWHC 1281 (Ch) (21 May 2019)) case of a defendant failing to do what the court ordered to repair infringements of patent and copyright, and being held in contempt as a result. There seems to be no new or startling legal principles involved but its subject-matter demands attention.

Recorder Douglas Campbell QC found that the defendants had breached the injunction in several ways. They had distributed a brochure that showed the infringing product, which amounted to an offer to dispose of the product and was therefore a breach of the injunction even without any goods being supplied. It also contained matter that infringed the copyright, which was another breach. The defendants had also failed to give an affidavit of compliance with a destruction order, so there was another breach of the injunction.

It all added up to a deliberate decision to take a casual approach to complying with the injunctions, apparently unconcerned about how quickly they complied with the order, or indeed whether they complied at all. Although they argued that some acts were inadvertent, these flowed from the deliberate decision to take a casual approach. The corporate defendants' controlling mind, the fourth defendant, was in contempt and would be sentenced later.

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