A HIGH Court judgment has ruled a Chester mum's claims she had created a skincare brand to treat her cancer treatment scars were false, and the serum had actually originated from a Liverpool businesswoman.

Liverpool mum Georgina Tang, 60, founder of Yours Naturally Naturally Yours organic skincare brand, won a ground-breaking case against Kate McIver Skin Limited, succeeding in the claim of ‘Reverse Passing Off’ after a four-year legal battle.

Ms Tang said the judgment, handed down by Judge Richard Hacon in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court in Manchester earlier this year, was a "great relief", after almost having a nervous breakdown over the legal fight, worried about losing her business and home, having spent over £200,000 on legal costs.

Kate McIver, who had been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2016, passed away in March 2019, aged 30. She had said she initially used the skincare product to treat her scars caused by the chemotherapy treatment.

On June 6, 2018, Ms McIver posted on Instagram: "The Kate McIver serum was designed to turn my skin around to help my cells recover and rejuvenate, it also healed all my scars."

Judge Hacon, in his summary judgment, said: "I have no doubt that Ms McIver’s account of the painful difficulties inflicted on her by her condition and consequent therapy were accurate. She showed her strength by the way that she dealt with those difficulties. But while her story of being driven to create a serum to cure her bad skin was presumably attractive from a marketing point of view, it was not true.

The legal row centred on claims made by Ms McIver that she created the skincare brand Elixir, later renamed Secret Weapon, whilst she had chemotherapy, saying she made it in her own back room with her hands.

But the anti-aging serum Elixir – also known as Miracle in a Bottle, was created by Ms Tang in 2015. Ms Tang had begun creating products for her son Alessio when he underwent chemotherapy in 2013 for the incurable auto-immune condition called juvenile idiopathic arthritis. He is now on anti-tumour necrosis factor treatment for life. Ms Tang created 'skin-kind' hair care to encourage hair growth, which left Alessio with a full head of hair, and a shea butter balm which cured his severe psoriasis.

The Elixir serum was supplied to beauticians and retailers, including Kate McIver, who became a 'white label' supplier.

But, the court heard, Ms McIver started to misrepresent that she created Elixir aka Secret Weapon, and Kate McIver Skin terminated their working arrangement towards the end of 2018, launching Secret Weapon Limited Edition the following day.

The Secret Weapon serum was marketed and the story covered in local and national press.

Ms Tang said: “It was extremely hurtful to read my local newspapers publicising Ms McIver who lived in Chester and was utterly devastated to read the untrue story that they were sticking labels on my products. I know this isn’t true because my staff and I did that by hand as our products are handmade!”

Judge Hacon, in his summary, added: “Ms Mclver’s statement on June 6, 2018 that she had put her life and soul into researching and creating the ‘Kate Mclver’ serum, can only have been taken as meaning that she had created Elixir serum she was selling. No alternative was suggested.

“Ms Mclver expressed representation was that she was the creator of the Elixir serum. By inevitable implications, she also made the further representation that she was the creator of the Elixir serum sold by anyone else, including Ms Tang.

"Both the express and the implied representation were false.

“Kate McIver Skin continued to represent this as the serum which Ms McIver had created to deal with her own skin problems caused by chemotherapy. KMS made prominent use of before and after photographs of the celebrity Danielle Lloyd. These were used in an Instagram post dated October 19, 2018, when KMS was marketing Ms Tang’s serum, with commentary that included: ‘Created by stage 4 cancer thriver Kate McIver’.

“In my view, Ms McIver and KMS remained very attached to the attractive story of Ms McIver’s having created their serum because of her efforts to recover from the effects of chemotherapy. They continued to state that this was the serum they were selling. This is supported by Kathryn Orr’s interview for the Ladies of Liverpool podcast, the prominent use of ‘Original’ on the packaging and the repeated use of the Danielle Lloyd photographs to promote the product."

Ms Tang added: “I originally started making products to help my son when he had chemotherapy. For her to make out like my products were hers and claim that she had created Elixir aka Secret weapon whilst she had chemotherapy was so wrong.

“Sadly, Kate McIver passed away and I am truly sorry about that for her and her family. I know the unbearable pain of losing someone close because I lost two young members of my family to cancer, one being my sister whom I was very close to.

"Therefore I have always worked very hard to develop skin care and hair care products which are suitable for people going through chemotherapy. I had first-hand experience from my son of that intensive chemotherapy treatment.”

On the claim of malicious falsehood, Judge Hacon said while malice was established and Ms McIver knew her statement was false, it could not be proven the claim caused Ms Tang pecuniary loss, and the claim for malicious falsehood failed. wrote: “On the evidence available I have no doubt that Ms

Mclver knew that her statement was false. Malice is established.

On copyright infringement, Judge Hacon found that use of YNNY wording after the November 30, 2018, would be a breach of copyright. Kate McIver Skin has since deleted the offending posts.

The claim of reverse passing off therefore succeeded.

The Kate McIver Skin company has been contacted for comment.