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Plastic Cupcake Stands Focus of Bitter eBay Dispute

Published: 24 September 2014, in categories: Legal Updates | Commercial Litigation Updates | News and Updates

Auctions website eBay is well known to be a battleground of fierce competition but rival sellers of plastic cupcake stands have fallen out so badly that they have taken their trade dispute to the High Court.

Company A had only recently begun marketing its stands online when a competitor, company B, complained to eBay that registered design rights which protected its own stands were being violated. The online giant's response was to require company A to desist from selling a long list of its products on the site.

Company A accused company B of making groundless threats and launched proceedings, claiming damages, an injunction to restrain any further complaints to eBay and a judicial declaration that its products did not infringe company B’s rights.

However, company B denied any wrongdoing and argued that company A’s arguments had no real prospect of success. It contended that company A’s claim was ‘not worth the candle’, given the small sums of money involved when compared to potentially very large legal costs bills, and that it should be struck out.

However, the Court found that neither side had managed to land a 'knock-out blow' on the other. On a visual comparison of the products, it appeared ‘very unlikely' that company B would be able to prove infringement of its design rights. However, that issue would have to be considered further at a full trial.

Noting that it had taken months for company A’s stands to be re-listed on eBay, the Court found that its claim for an injunction and a declaration to protect its future trading position was 'entirely understandable and reasonably pursued'. The ruling opened the way for the dispute to proceed to a full hearing.

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