IPC-Highbury battle takes new twist

A bitter war of words has broken out between two leading magazine publishers after the High Court threw out a copyright challenge by IPC to rival Highbury House.

The High Court said the front cover design and some internal features of Highbury’s Home title did not infringe on the copyright of IPC’s Ideal Home magazine, ending a long and often bitter scrap between the two publishing houses.

However, Highbury House has now reacted angrily to comments made by IPC after the case’s conclusion, insisting the company had fought the challenge “on the facts and law as they stand” and “on points of principle and fairness”.

Mark Simpson, chief executive of Highbury House Communications, said he was disappointed to see IPC’s comments and believed it was not appropriate to continue the debate in the media.

After the case IPC said it would continue to “vigorously defend the creativity and originality of our journalists”.

A statement from the company added: “A picture tells 1,000 words - have a look for yourself and make your own mind up.”

The battle could still be far from over, with IPC considering whether to appeal against what the company called Mr Justice Laddie’s “naturally disappointing” ruling.

However, Simpson said the battle had been a “significant distraction” for the company and was looking to claim the maximum level of legal fees from IPC as possible.

He said: “I am delighted that this action has now been resolved.

“We will be glad to put the disruption that it has caused behind us and get back to concentrating on what we do best – publishing magazines which compete strongly in their markets.

IPC hit back by claiming the complaint was lodged only to “protect our journalists and designers and to protect the principle of copyright”, an issue it considered fundamental to the industry.

The two titles are poles apart in terms of sales, with the most current figures available showing circulation of 271,000 for IPC’s Ideal Home and 61,500 for Highbury’s Home.

By Kevin May

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