A CLOTHING design firm in East Lancashire has won a 'David and Goliath' copyright battle over a disputed fashion design.

Bosses at Response Clothing had supplied a 'wave' effect ladies top to Edinburgh Woollen Mills (EWM) for three seasons, from 2009 to 2012.

But when the Blackburn firm tried to increase prices, the national retailer took a sample to another garment supplier, the High Court was told.

An order was initially secured by a company called Visage, which had the contract for three years, before EWM sourced fresh materials from two Far East firms.

Faisal Patel, sole director and shareholder of Response, insisted the wave design was their copyright, which had been infringed by all three of the mills company's suppliers.

His outfit, which used to be sited in Oswaldtwistle was represented in court by Blackburn-based Taylor Solicitors.

Lawyers representing EWM challenged their claims, calling witness evidence from two of China Ningbo and the Sinotex Corporation, which later made 'Cingo' and Bengal Knittex' wave designs for them, to support their case.

Alizon Blythe, a senior ladieswear buyer for EWM, said in a statement: "I did not regard the replacement of a garment in our range with another one which uses a fabric which is generally available on the market and is similar to but materially different from the original as wrong or inappropriate. It is standard or commercial practice."

But Judge Richard Hacon, sitting at the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, noted that EWM had made considerable efforts to source similar fabrics to the wave design and had failed to do so.

Judge Hacon added: "Given that each of Visage, Cingo and Bengal Knittex were probably invited to supply a fabric very similar to the Wave Fabric, it can have come as no surprise to EWM that this was what they got.

"I think it is likely Ms Blythe and possibly others at EWM were either prepared to take the risk EWM was infringing Response's rights, or alternatively they adopted such a narrow view of those rights that they believed there would be no infringement.

"But the test is not what Ms Blythe thought, it is what a reasonable person in her position would have thought.

"In my view, the similarities between the Wave Fabric on the one hand and each of the Visage, Cingo and Bengal Knittex Fabrics on the other, would have been apparent to a reasonable person and would have led that person to believe that dealing in the latter fabrics would be in breach of rights likely to be held by Response."