Leicestershire satchel maker settles lawsuit over copied ideas allegation
A satchel manufacturer has settled a legal dispute with a rival business after allegations it copied some of its ideas.
The Cambridge Satchel Company (CSC), which has a factory in Wigston, took action against Leicester Remedials and Sewing (LRS).
LRS began making satchels for CSC in 2010, but decided to launch its own brand of bags under the Zatchels name last year.
LRS, of Charter Street in the city, denied it had copied CSC's work, but said it had decided to settle the dispute out of court because of the huge cost of defending the case. LRS has paid CSC an undisclosed sum.
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CSC was set up by Julie Deane about four years ago and its leather satchels are sold in Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols.
Earlier this year, Bloomingdale's New York store dedicated all seven of its windows to showcasing the bags during New York Fashion Week.
As the company grew, it began using outside manufacturers, including LRS, which was recommended to Mrs Deane. LRS is run by Dean Clarke and Brian Brady and carries out technical sewing and footwear repairs for other companies.
LRS, which employs 60 people, said it ceased working with CSC in spring last year and launched the Zatchels range at about the same time.
Zatchels have gone on sale in retailers including Liberty, Urban Outfitters, Jones Bootmakers, Asos, the Pedlars concession in Selfridges and a large number of boutiques.
Mr Clarke said sales were expected to double to £4 million next year.
Documents posted with the high court by CSC as part of the dispute alleged LRS/Zatchels and/or its two directors were in breach of contract, traded on CSC's reputation and used some of CSC's designs.
The documents also stated the Cambridge business was seeking compensation and damages for the "unlawful use, retention and conversion by the defendants or one or more of them of various goods and chattels, including in particular various stocks of leather".
Mrs Deane said: "I set up The Cambridge Satchel Company in 2008 to create good-quality, handmade British satchels to fund my children's education.
"Since then we have been overwhelmed by the support for our brand and the loyal following we have amassed.
"I want to raise awareness of the misconduct which we believe has taken place and to assure our customers that we will stick to our principles and continue to create the best products for them."
A statement from Mr Clarke and Mr Brady, of LRS, said: "While we strongly consider the claims to be speculative and unfounded, with all of the costs and unpleasantness involved with high court action, we have decided to settle the claim with a payment.
"This is to avoid a protracted and long-drawn-out litigation so we are able to concentrate on our business, which continues to flourish."