Judge blasts Bristan Group for “copying” Kohler Mira design

A Patents County Court judge has found that Bristan Group copied the design of Kohler Mira’s Azora electric shower with its Glee, Joy and Smile products.

Judge blasts Bristan Group for 'copying' Kohler Mira design

It was Kohler Mira’s belief that when the Bristan Glee, Joy and Smile were launched, the products infringed its intellectual property (IP) rights, and it raised its concerns with Bristan in 2011.

On the evidence before him, His Honour Judge Birss QC found the Mira Azora to be “a very significant departure in the field of electric showers when it was launched in 2006”, making “a significant impact in the UK market” and achieving “substantial sales”.

Damningly, the judge found that all the similarities which exist between Bristan’s Glee, Joy and Smile products and the Mira Azora product arose “because of copying”.

As a consequence of the finding, Bristan is required to pay damages or account to Kohler Mira for its profits in connection with past sales of all three of its infringing products and will pay licence fees going forward.

This is the second time Kohler Mira has had to assert its IP relating to Azora; the last occasion being in 2010 when it reached an out-of-court settlement with Triton Showers resulting in the removal of the Inscriptions shower range from the market.

Kohler Mira’s marketing director Craig Baker said: “Kohler Mira invests significantly in research and development in the UK; and it’s unacceptable that our competitors try to acquire the same brand traction as ourselves on the cheap. One of our guiding principles is to live on the leading edge of design and innovation, and it is vital that this is backed with a strong commitment to enforce our intellectual property. As industry leader in innovation, we cannot and will not allow our investment to be misappropriated.”

“Consequently, it should not be underestimated as to how aggressively we will seek to enforce our intellectual property rights in the markets in which we operate,” Baker concluded.

Bristan Group have responded to this story here

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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