Home titles locked in copycat legal row

Title fight: Magazine case could set legal precedent for the industry

The battle between Ideal Home and Home magazines is due to move from the newsstand to the High Court on Monday.

A judge will decide if Home publisher, Highbury House Communications has been guilty of copying from the IPC title.

The case is thought to involve disputes over logos, mastheads and layouts.

Industry watchers believe the legal action could have huge implications for magazine companies.

The magazine industry is highly competitive and in the past has been quick to launch spoilers or rival publications into newly established markets. Media companies have found it difficult to take successful legal actions accusing other publishers of copying. Often cases have come down to whether readers would be misled into buying the wrong magazine by publishers trying to “pass off” a title.

IPC declined to reveal any details about the case. But an IPC insider said: “IPC isn’t in the business of trying to set precedents, but it is our view that there is a world of difference between inspiration and systematic copying.”

IPC itself was threatened with legal action in 2001 after VNU alleged that the company’s title Web User was based on the design of its magazine Computeractive.

The case was settled out of court after IPC agreed to redesign Web User.

Home was launched in 1995 and has a circulation of 61,510. Ideal Home dates back to 1920 and sells 271,161 copies.

Highbury Publications declined to comment.

By Sarah Lagan

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