A UK retailing group has won its landmark action against Dunnes Stores.

The Commercial Court found this morning that Dunnes had infringed the design rights of Karen Millen by copying and selling a Karen Millen jumper and two shirts.

This case was the first to be taken in this country under the Community Unregistered Design Right regulation, which came into effect across the EU in 2002, and the first to be taken in Europe involving clothing.

Karen Millen is part of the Mosaic Fashions Group.  Two other brands in the group, Coast and Whistles are also taking similar actions against Dunnes.

Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan found Karen Millen's designs had an individual character. She said the court should have regard to the colour, texture and material used in the garments. 

She said they would create a different overall impression on someone who knew about fashion to designs that had been on sale in previous years.

She rejected an argument by Dunnes Stores that the Karen Millen designs were common and did not deserve protection under the EU regulation. She found that Dunnes had infringed Karen Millen's design rights.

Karen Millen is not looking for damages but is seeking an account of the profits made by Dunnes from selling the clothes.

In a statement, Mosaic Fashions said it would give a substantial donation to the Marie Keating foundation once it recovers any money.

The case has been adjourned until 18 January to deal with the outstanding issues.