WHAT WE ACHIEVED
“Mr Siraj and Mr Alexander successfully defended against the claim for $300,000 in damages or statutory damages of $132,000 in the alternative for copyright infringement. The Court ultimately awarded the Plaintiff a nominal sum of $2,000 and $4,000 in statutory damages against each of the Defendants, which was a substantial decrease from the initial claim of $300,000 and $132,000.
The Plaintiff’s subsequent appeals against both decisions were dismissed on 27 October 2021 with costs awarded to the Defendants.”
[Intellectual Property Law – copyright infringement, defence of innocent infringement, proof of loss, statutory damages]
The Plaintiff was a sole proprietor of business primarily involved in the design, fabrication and installation of metal furniture, gates & grilles. Sometime in 2018 or 2019, the Defendants started making laser-cut gates for sale, with some of the gates being identical to the copyrighted gates that the Plaintiff had been marketing since 2015.
The Plaintiff decided to initiate the suits against the Defendants despite their attempts to cease the infringements, seeking damages and/or an account of profits for the infringement of his copyright to the images of the gates and statutory damages in the alternative. The Plaintiff’s claim was premised on the Defendants’ infringement of his copyright over the gate designs, which he said led to a loss of sales.
Mr Siraj and Mr Alexander argued that the Defendants were innocent infringers who did not know of the Plaintiff’s copyright, and that even if the defence of innocent infringement did not apply, the Plaintiff failed to prove that there was a loss of profit which can be attributed to the Defendant’s infringements, and that the Plaintiff’s methodology of calculating his loss was flawed and speculative. Lastly, they also argued that the sum claimed by the Plaintiff for statutory damages was without evidential basis and disproportionate.
Although the Court ultimately found that the Defendants cannot avail themselves to the defence of innocent infringement, it held that the Plaintiff did not demonstrate that the loss suffered was attributable to the Defendants’ infringements of his copyrights. The Court also accepted Mr Siraj and Mr Alexander’s arguments that the Plaintiff’s figures were inaccurate and were at odds with market data.