The man accusing Butt Foods of infringing his design patent with its edible bread bowls has abandoned his legal action against the company owing to escalating costs.
Stuart Hepworth, who launched Crusty Crock Pots in the 1990s to sell edible bread bowls, claims Butt Foods’ bowls infringe a design patent he registered more than 15 years ago and has continued to renew.
Hepworth, who claims that three separate patent attorneys believe he has a good case, had hoped Butt Foods would pay him off by buying his design.
However, Butt Foods insisted it had not infringed his intellectual property and was not willing to cut a deal, according to Hepworth. “I have tried to bring Butt Foods to the negotiating table and even asked to bring in an independent patent judge to decide who is right and who is wrong,” he said.
“It has cost me £5,000 already and my solicitors want a further £10,000 to go into the next stage with the possibility of this amount rising to £40,000, if Butt Foods does not negotiate.”
He added: “Although opinions from three top international patent attorneys said that I was in the right, they would not give me over 75% chance of winning.”
Despite the favourable odds, it was a gamble he was not able to afford, and he has been forced to abandon his case. “If I lost, not only would I lose my £40,000 but I would have Butt Foods’ expenses to pay as well. I am upset and angry but my future finances are more important than my pride,” said Hepworth.
He added: “As this whole affair has opened up the market again for edible bread bowls, I have decided to pull out of the action and sell my design right with all the opinions and trade marks for a nominal £15,000 plus VAT for some big company to take it on and take Butt Foods to the cleaners!”
Butt Foods md David Williams said he was confident that Hepworth’s intellectual property had not been violated. He added: “Our patent and trademark attorney has advised us we are not infringing any registered design patents.”