The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Designer drub for copycats

Imitation, some say, is the best form of flattery. Try telling that to Ritu Kumar or any other fashion designer plagued by rampant plagiarism in the city.

Kumar recently won what could be a trend-setting copycat case against a series of Calcutta-based retailers and designers producing and selling fakes of her creations.

Last week saw three ' of the seven accused ' outlets being raided for 'Ritu Kumar imitation' designs.

'Right after we had filed the case in Delhi High Court in 1999, several stores and workshops in Calcutta were raided and direct copies of my works were found in their possession,' Kumar told Metro at her Beleghata factory on Tuesday.

'The goods were then sealed off. Now, the court has ordered that the sealed goods ' including my designs and screens ' be returned to me,' she added.

Separate orders passed against each of the defendants have permanently debarred them from 'reproducing, printing, publishing, and distributing' colourable imitations or substantial reproductions of' Ritu Kumar designs.

The court blacklist includes Nina Talukdar, retailing from Tivoli Court; Pramod Kanodia trading as Best Collection, on CR Avenue; Mahadev L. Shewakramani, trading as Drishti Creations, on Elliot Road; Ashwini Kumar Agarwal, trading as Skipper, on Russel Street; Mrs Malhotra, trading as Exclusive Creation, on Syed Amir Ali Avenue and AJC Bose Road; Sajid Mobin, trading as Popicon, on Lower Range; and Mr Mohammed, trading as Ilahi Manzoor Alam Saree, in Dum Dum.

Craftsmen Kartik Koley, Amber Chatterjee and Shambhu Garai Bahir, all from Hooghly, were also among the accused.

The premises of Skipper, Popicon and Nina Talukdar were raided last week by court-appointed commissioners from Delhi.

'The goods could be retrieved only from Skipper. While the owners of Popicon refused to let the commissioners in, in Nina Talukdar's case, the sealed goods were not found in her possession,' Shwetasree Majumder, lawyer of Anand and Anand, the copyright firm fighting the case, told Metro from Delhi.

The crackdown has given the couture corps enough reason to rejoice. 'I hope this verdict will help set an example,' said Kumar, who started out from the city and still has her production base here.

'Besides acting as a deterrent for many involved in the business of copying, this will set a precedent for any designer wanting to move court for a similar cause,' said designer Pali Sachdev.

Kumar felt that the one way designers could protect their creations was by registering their work. 'Most of my designs are patented and that helped me win the case,' she said.

But that is easier said than done, countered city designers. 'Patenting designs is only possible for designers like Ritu Kumar, who have very organised and big set-ups. I know it should be done, but it's a tedious process,' said Anamika Khanna, while hailing the verdict in the plagiarism plaint and hoping it would 'make a difference'.

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