The government has been installing water meters across the city that are illegal copies of a 40-year-old design, a High Court writ claims. The writ, filed on behalf of Elster Metering - formerly known as ABB Metering - claims the meters, made by Ningbo Donghai Group Corporation, are unauthorised reproductions of designs owned by Elster. In April last year, Elster convinced the Court of First Instance that Ningbo Donghai's designs for the meters did not differ from its own. The court revoked Ningbo Donghai's registration of the designs in Hong Kong, clearing the way for Elster's legal action. The writ seeks an injunction preventing Ningbo Donghai or its local affiliate, Billions Ltd, from producing the meters, or from dealing in any way with them or any offending components until the litigation is completed. Elster wants the court to order the forfeiture of all materials involved and monetary compensation for the violation of its intellectual property rights. The company is also seeking a declaration that the government, by buying and installing the meters, also infringed on its design. Its list of demands against the government is identical to that against Ningbo and Billions, and includes the demand that all infringing meters be forfeited. A spokesman for the Water Supplies Department said the government purchased about 20,000 water meters a year. He said the department had bought meters from Ningbo Donghai. He was unable to put a number on how many of the allegedly offending meters the government had purchased or how many of them had already been installed, but said that no more would be purchased until the court action was resolved.