Israel fashion designer Gadi Elemelech sued Renuar, a chain of selling women’s clothing for selling clothing that was confusingly similar to his haute couture dress. The dress in question appeared in Elemelech’s 2013 collection, and in Renuar’s 2014 range. The legal grounds for the action were the Israel Trade Related Torts Act 1999.
A unique design feature that was copied is in the neck shown above. The one on the right is Elimelech’s and that on the left is Renuar’s.
Elimelech sent a Cease and Desist but Renaur denied the allegations.
Section 1a of the Israel Trade Related Torts Act 1999 states:
No business should create the impression that a product they sell or a service they provide was provided by a third party of in connection with a third party.
Citing Judge David Cheshin in 8981/04 Avi Malka Avazi Restaurant vs. Avazi Hatikveh Neighbourhood (1997) from 2006 to the effect that the creation of a new tort simply reclassified the old one and was not substantially different. Professor Miguel Deutch concurred in his book Trade Related Torts and Trade Secrets 2002 came ot a similar conclusion, referring back to an academic paper by Judge Gidon Gilat to the effect that passing off does not only relate to fraudulent use of trademarks.
Renuar argued that there was no likelihood of confusion among Elimilelech’s clientele who know whether they are purchasing from designer or from the high street chain.
Elimelech argued that his dresses were
ripped off copied and sold in the chain and that this made them less desirable and limited his sales and profits.
Judge Gidon Gilat of the Tel Aviv District Court ruled that the sale was actionable under the Trade Related Torts act as ‘passing off’ since the designer dress was well known and associated with the designer, and the fashion chain’s dress was confusingly similar to the designer dress, which they were aware of. The court awarded damages of 55,000 Shekels and a further 35,000 Shekels legal costs.
Civil Tort 5366-12-14 Elimelech vs. Renuar Ruling by Gidon Ginat, 22 December 2016