Two directors of Utopia Tableware have been convicted of contempt of court in a case over design rights of a beer glass.
The directors, Stephen Dodd and Martin Core, were accused of giving false witness statements in the case Utopia Tableware v BBP Marketing. They received sentences of six months and two months respectively.
The directors were attempting to bolster an already strong case by asking suppliers to email them to raise concerns about BBP Marketing's beer glass and suggest that it looked like a direct copy.
This emails were then used in court by Dodd and Core to back up their claim. Their claim for infringement of design rights relating to the Aspen beer glass were upheld, but the judge took a dim view of the claimants original witness statement claim that the emails were genuine.
Referring the contempt case to the Attorney General, Judge Birss said: "Signing false witness statements, repeating the lie in further false statements, conspiring to present false evidence and tampering with the dates of emails amount to a serious contempt."
Although the high court found that the claimant's design rights were valid with reference to the Aspen beer glass, on 31 January Justice Andrews convicted Dodd and Core with contempt of court for fabricating evidence.
They are appealing their sentences.
Kevin Glover, a barrister for Shortland Chambers in Auckland, New Zealand, who has been following the case, said: "This case was very unusual. Prosecutions for contempt of court are relatively rare, let alone cases where a judge refers the matter to the Attorney General.