Wiggin secures BPI victory on parallel imports

Media boutique Wiggin has scored a crucial win for the British music industry, after the High Court ruled that online retailer CD WOW breached of UK copyright law despite being based offshore.

Mr Justice Evans Lombe’s decision has tightened UK rules on parallel importing, where goods are imported from outside the EU and sold cheaply in the region without the copyright owner’s permission.

CD WOW’s business focused on the sale of cheap CDs imported from Asia into the UK.

BPI general counsel Roz Groome said: “The court has delivered a clear message to all companies engaged in importing music CDs and DVDs into the UK from outside Europe without consent – such conduct is clearly and unequivocally a breach of copyright.”

She added that the BPI would put pressure on other importers with the same business model.

“The BPI will be using this judgment to ensure that no other company unfairly undermines legitimate retailers in the UK that are trading successfully and respecting the law,” said Groome

The case originally settled in 2004, but CD WOW continued to sell CDs.

Evans Loombe J ruled that the company was in contempt of court and “has no tenable grounds of defence to the Claimants’ copyright rights.”

The judge fined CD WOW £150,000 as a contribution to the BPI’s costs. The full costs and damages will be decided at a hearing in July.

Wiggin partner Simon Baggs acted for music industry body the BPI, instructing Richard Spearman QC of 4-5 Grays Inn Square and Mark Vanhegan of 11 South Square.

CD WOW was represented by partner Nigel Davies at K&L Gates and barrister Philip Roberts at One Essex Court.