Watches can be copyrightable in Sweden

pexels-photo-280253Hans Eriksson and Petter Larsson (Westerberg & Partners Advokatbyrå Ab) published quite an interesting article for Lexology that concerns a lawsuit for copyright infringement in Sweden.

Back in 2016, a local retailer started to import watches with a minimalistic design that resembled such produced and offered by the well-known Sweden watch manufacturer Daniel Wellington.

A copyright lawsuit followed. The defendant position of the retailer was that the watch design at hand wasn’t original taking into account prior art which clearly showed a variety of other watches on the market that shared similar design characteristics.

Based on this, the first instance court dismissed the copyright infringement claim.

The decision was appealed. The Patent and Market Court of Appeal came to the conclusion that there was a copyright infringement. The reason was that the authors of Daniel Wellington’s watch had made small design choices to create the watch which was sufficient for the watch originality.

Moreover, the court addressed the defendant’s mosaic of prior art components by stating that the fact that a product consists of previously known elements does not rule out copyright protection if it displays originality when considered in its entirety.

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San Marino joins the Hague Agreement

san-marino-1681021_960_720WIPO reports about the accession of the Republic of San Marino to the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs. This Agreement, which will enter into force for the country on 26.01.2019, gives an easy way for applying for industrial design protection in various countries around the world submitting only one application and paying one total fee instead of doing that in every single country.

More information can be found here.

Brief IP news

briefs_1131. DesignEuropa Awards 2018 – apply or nominate by May 15. For more information here.

2. The Protection of Fashion Shows in Italy: An Uncharted Stage. For more information here.

3. All rights reserved – advantages of copyright registration. For more information here.

Source: Intellectual Property Center at the UNWE. More information can be found here

 

How to register European designs?

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EUIPO reminds, in its last edition of Alicante news, about some important requirements for registration of EU industrial designs, non-compliance with which can lead to a detrimental effect on the design applications. They are:

1.  Representation of the design – every design has to be represented in a way that it can be perceived correctly by the Office and third parties. The representation of the views must consist of a graphic or photographic reproduction, for one and the same design, and on a neutral background and in good quality. When the representation requires including external elements visible in the views but not intended to be protected, the representation should contain a clear graphical disclaimer. The design should be represented by at least one view and the maximum number of protected views is 7 per design. Additionally 3 unprotected and not published views may be submitted.

2. Product indication of the design – the Classes of products for which the design will be registered have to be identified correctly and precisely. Applicants can use DesignClass in that regard, which can help a lot.

3. Priority & missing documents – all documents for claiming priority over a design application have to be submitted on time to the Office. Other than that, the applicant can lose its priority date. The application must concern the same design to confer to the proprietor the right to claim for priority. When filing a Community design application, the owner can request its publication to be delayed for a period of up to 30 months. The design can, therefore, be kept confidential until the applicant is ready to disclose it. The request for deferment must be made on the initial application form; later requests (even on the same date) will not be accepted.

Source: Alicante news.

Nintendo and industrial design protection in EU

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The European court has ruled in joined cases C‑24/16 and C‑25/16, Nintendo Co. Ltd v BigBen Interactive GmbH, BigBen Interactive SA. These cases concern the following:

Nintendo is a multinational company active in the production and sale of video games and video game consoles, including the Wii video games console and its accessories. It is the holder of several registered Community designs relating to Wii accessories, such as the Wii remote control, the accessory known as the ‘Nunchuck’ for the Wii remote control, which enables compatible video games to be controlled differently, the connector plug known as the ‘Wii Motion Plus’ for the remote control, and the Balance Board, an accessory that allows the player to control the game through weight changes.

BigBen France makes remote controls and other accessories compatible with the Wii video games console and sells them via its website directly to consumers located inter alia in France, Belgium and Luxembourg, as well as to its subsidiary, BigBen Germany. The latter sells the goods made by BigBen France, inter alia via its website, to consumers located in Germany and Austria.

It is apparent from the file submitted to the Court of Justice that BigBen Germany does not have its own stock of goods. Thus, it forwards the orders it receives from consumers to BigBen France. Supply of the allegedly infringing goods is therefore carried out from France. BigBen Germany and BigBen France also use images of goods corresponding to the protected designs held by Nintendo in the course of the lawful sale, including for the purposes of publicity, of certain other goods they sell.

Nintendo takes the view that BigBen Germany and BigBen France’s sale of certain goods made by BigBen France infringes its rights under the registered Community designs held by it. It also submits that those two companies cannot be recognised as having the right to use the images of the goods corresponding to those designs for their commercial activity. Consequently, it brought actions before the Landgericht Düsseldorf (Regional Court, Düsseldorf, Germany) against BigBen Germany and BigBen France seeking a declaration that they had infringed the rights conferred upon it by those designs.

The Landgericht held that there had been an infringement by BigBen Germany and BigBen France of Nintendo’s registered Community designs. However, it dismissed the actions in so far as they concerned the use of the images of the goods corresponding to those designs by the defendants in the main proceedings. The Landgericht therefore ordered BigBen Germany to cease using those designs throughout the European Union and also upheld, without territorial limitation, Nintendo’s supplementary claims seeking that it be sent various information, accounts and documents held by the defendants in the main proceedings, that they be ordered to pay compensation and that the destruction or recall of the goods at issue, publication of the judgment and reimbursement of the lawyers’ fees incurred by Nintendo be ordered (‘the supplementary claims’).

As regards BigBen France, the Landgericht Düsseldorf (Regional Court, Düsseldorf) held that it had international jurisdiction in respect of that company and ordered it to cease using the protected designs at issue throughout the European Union. Concerning the supplementary claims, it limited the scope of its judgment to BigBen France’s supplies of the goods at issue to BigBen Germany, but without limiting the territorial scope of its judgment. It considered the applicable law to be that of the place of infringement and took the view that in the present case that was German, Austrian and French law.

Both Nintendo and the defendants in the main proceedings brought appeals against that judgment before the Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf (Higher Regional Court, Düsseldorf).

In support of its action, BigBen France contends that the German courts lack jurisdiction to adopt orders against it that are applicable throughout the European Union and takes the view that such orders can have merely national territorial scope. For its part, Nintendo disputes the limitation of such orders solely to the goods within the supply chain between the defendants in the main proceedings. Nintendo also claims that the defendants in the main proceedings cannot be recognised as having the right to use, in the course of their economic activity and for the purposes of selling their own goods, the images of the goods corresponding to its registered Community designs, whereas the defendants in the main proceedings maintain that such use is in conformity with Regulation No 6/2002. Moreover, Nintendo takes the view that German law should be applied to its claims relating to BigBen Germany and French law to those relating to BigBen France, contrary to what the Landgericht Düsseldorf (Regional Court, Düsseldorf) held.

Nintendo therefore requests the referring court to order the defendants in the main proceedings to cease to make, import, export, use or stock for those purposes the goods at issue within the European Union and/or reproduce those goods or, as the case may be, use the images of those goods corresponding to Nintendo’s Community designs, throughout the European Union. Nintendo’s claim relating to ceasing the production of the goods that, in its view, infringe the registered Community designs held by it concerns solely BigBen France.

In addition, Nintendo requests that its supplementary claims be upheld.

In those circumstances, the referring court states, in the first place, that its international jurisdiction in respect of the claims against BigBen France stems from Article 79(1) of Regulation No 6/2002, read in conjunction with Article 6(1) of Regulation No 44/2001, on the ground that Nintendo’s claims against BigBen Germany and BigBen France are connected because there is a supply chain of the allegedly infringing goods between the two defendants in the main proceedings. That court doubts, however, in the light of the arguments set out before it both by Nintendo and BigBen France, that the scope of the judgment delivered by the Landgericht Düsseldorf (Regional Court, Düsseldorf) in respect of BigBen France, as regards Nintendo’s claims, is in conformity with the provisions of Regulation No 44/2001 and Regulation No 6/2002.

In the second place, the referring court explains that the question whether and in what circumstances a third party might lawfully use the image of a product corresponding to a Community design in order to advertise the goods which it sells and which constitute accessories to the goods corresponding to such a registered design is novel. Interpretation of the concept of ‘citations’ within the meaning of Article 20(1)(c) of Regulation No 6/2002 is therefore necessary.

In the third place, that court has doubts as to the law applicable to Nintendo’s supplementary claims concerning both the first and second defendant in the main proceedings and is uncertain in that regard, in particular, about the scope of Article 8(2) of Regulation No 864/2007.

In those circumstances, the Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf (Higher Regional Court, Düsseldorf) decided to stay the proceedings and to refer the following questions, which are formulated in the same terms in Cases C‑24/16 and C‑25/16, to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling:

‘(1) In connection with a trial to enforce claims under a Community design, can the court of a Member State whose jurisdiction with respect to a defendant is based solely on Article 79(1) of [Regulation No 6/2002] in conjunction with Article 6(1) of [Regulation No 44/2001], on the basis that this defendant, which is domiciled in another Member State, supplied the defendant domiciled in the pertinent Member State with goods that may infringe intellectual property rights, adopt measures against the first mentioned defendant that are applicable throughout the EU and extend beyond the supply relationships on which jurisdiction is based?

(2)  Is [Regulation No 6/2002], particularly Article 20(1)(c), to be interpreted as meaning that a third party may depict a Community design for commercial purposes if it intends to sell accessory items for the right holder’s goods corresponding to the Community design? If so, what criteria apply to this?

(3) For the purposes of Article 8(2) of [Regulation No 864/2007], how is the place “in which the act of infringement was committed” to be determined in cases in which the infringer:

(a) offers goods that infringe a Community design on a website and that website is also directed at Member States other than the one in which the person damaged by the infringement is domiciled, and/or;

(b) has goods that infringe a Community design shipped to a Member State other than the one in which it is domiciled?

Is Article 15(a) and (g) of the Rome II Regulation to be interpreted as meaning that the law determined in this manner is also applicable to participatory acts of other persons?’

The Court decision:

1. Council Regulation (EC) No 6/2002 of 12 December 2001 on Community designs, read in conjunction with Article 6(1) of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, must be interpreted as meaning that in circumstances such as those in the main proceedings where the international jurisdiction of a Community design court seised of an action for infringement is based, with regard to one defendant, on Article 82(1) of Regulation No 6/2002 and, with regard to a second defendant established in another Member State, on that Article 6(1) read in conjunction with Article 79(1) of Regulation No 6/2002, because the second defendant makes and supplies to the first defendant the goods that the latter sells, that court may, on the applicant’s request, adopt orders in respect of the second defendant concerning measures falling under Article 89(1) and Article 88(2) of Regulation No 6/2002 also covering the second defendant’s conduct other than that relating to the abovementioned supply chain and with a scope which extends throughout the European Union.

2. Article 20(1)(c) of Regulation No 6/2002 must be interpreted as meaning that a third party which, without the consent of the holder of the rights conferred by a Community design, uses, including via its website, images of goods corresponding to such designs when lawfully offering for sale goods intended to be used as accessories to the specific goods of the holder of the rights conferred by those designs, in order to explain or demonstrate the joint use of the goods thus offered for sale and the specific goods of the holder of those rights, carries out an act of reproduction for the purpose of making ‘citations’ within the meaning of Article 20(1)(c), such an act thus being authorised under that provision provided that it fulfils the cumulative conditions laid down therein, which is for the national court to verify.

3. Article 8(2) of Regulation (EC) No 864/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 on the law applicable to noncontractual obligations (‘Rome II’) must be interpreted as meaning that the ‘country in which the act of infringement was committed’ within the meaning of that provision refers to the country where the event giving rise to the damage occurred. Where the same defendant is accused of various acts of infringement in various Member States, the correct approach for identifying the event giving rise to the damage is not to refer to each alleged act of infringement, but to make an overall assessment of that defendant’s conduct in order to determine the place where the initial act of infringement at the origin of that conduct was committed or threatened by it.

Infringement of EU designs – an opinion by Advocate General of the EU Court

eu-vat-action-surveyThe Advocate-General of the European Court Y. BOT gave its opinion on cases C‑24/16 and C‑25/16 Nintendo Co. Ltd against BigBen Interactive GmbH, BigBen Interactive SA. Both cases concern the following:

Nintendo Co. Ltd, a Japanese undertaking which sells the Wii video game console, (6) holds several Community designs which relate to accessories such as ‘Nunchuks’, ‘Balance Boards’ and remote controls.

BigBen Interactive SA (‘BigBen France’), which is now a European market leader in the design and distribution of video game accessories for smartphones and tablets, has various European subsidiaries in different Member States. The undertaking manufactures the same accessories as those mentioned above, which are compatible with the Wii video game console and which it sells to various customers in Belgium, France and Luxembourg and to its German subsidiary, BigBen Interactive GmbH (‘BigBen Germany’), which operates on the German and Austrian markets.

Nintendo asserts that these goods thus placed on the European market infringe its registered Community designs. For that reason, it is claiming that the Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf (Higher Regional Court, Düsseldorf, Germany) should order that the defendants cease the manufacture, import and export of the goods considered to be in dispute and prohibit the depiction and use of the image of the goods incorporating the protected Community designs. By its supplementary claims, Nintendo is requesting the provision of accounting documents from BigBen France and BigBen Germany, financial compensation, reimbursement of lawyers’ fees, publication of the judgment and the destruction and recall of all the disputed goods.

In the orders made by it at first instance, the Landgericht Düsseldorf (Regional Court, Düsseldorf, Germany) recognised an infringement of Nintendo’s Community designs by BigBen France and BigBen Germany and therefore ordered them to cease using those designs. However, the use of images of the goods corresponding to those designs on websites was not declared unlawful by that court.

 III – The questions referred for a preliminary ruling

The Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf (Higher Regional Court, Düsseldorf), which has doubts as to the interpretation to be given to EU law, decided to stay its proceedings and to refer the following questions to the Court for a preliminary ruling:

(1)  In connection with a trial to enforce claims under a Community design, can the court of a Member State whose jurisdiction with respect to a defendant is based solely on Article 79(1) of Regulation No 6/2002 in conjunction with Article 6(1) of Regulation No 44/2001, on the basis that this defendant, which is domiciled in another Member State, supplied the defendant domiciled in the pertinent Member State with goods that may infringe intellectual property rights, adopt measures against the first mentioned defendant that are applicable throughout the EU and extend beyond the supply relationships on which jurisdiction is based?

(2)  Is Regulation No 6/2002, particularly Article 20(1)(c), to be interpreted as meaning that a third party may depict a Community design for commercial purposes if it intends to sell accessory items for the right holder’s goods corresponding to the Community design? If so, what criteria apply to this?

(3)  For the purposes of Article 8(2) of the Rome II Regulation, how is the place “in which the act of infringement was committed” to be determined in cases in which the infringer:

(a)  offers goods that infringe a Community design on a website and that website is also directed at Member States other than the one in which the person damaged by the infringement is domiciled, and/or;

(b)  has goods that infringe a Community design shipped to a Member State other than the one in which it is domiciled?

Is Article 15(a) and (g) of the Rome II Regulation to be interpreted as meaning that the law determined in this manner is also applicable to participatory acts of other persons?’

The Advocate General’s opinion:

1.  Article 79(1) of Council Regulation (EC) No 6/2002 of 12 December 2001 on Community designs in conjunction with Article 6(1) of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters is to be interpreted to the effect that decisions adopted by a national court in response to claims that are supplementary to an action for infringement in respect of two co-defendants domiciled in two different Member States, such as compensation for damage, the destruction or recall of the infringing goods, reimbursement of lawyers’ fees or publication of the judgment, have legal effect throughout the entire territory of the Union.

2. Article 89(1)(d) of Regulation No 6/2002 is to be interpreted to the effect that the concept of ‘other sanctions’ refers to claims such as the destruction of the infringing goods, the recall of those goods and publication of the judgment. On the other hand, that concept does not cover claims relating to compensation for damage, disclosure of company accounting information or reimbursement of lawyers’ fees.

3. Article 89(1)(d) of Regulation No 6/2002 and Article 8(2) of Regulation (EC) No 864/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations is to be interpreted to the effect that the law applicable to the claims that are supplementary to an action for infringement relating to the destruction of the infringing goods, the recall of those goods, publication of the judgment, compensation for damage, disclosure of company accounting information and reimbursement of lawyers’ fees is the law of the Member State where the act giving rise to the alleged infringement occurred or may occur. In the present case, the act giving rise to the alleged infringement is the manufacture of the infringing goods.

4. Article 20(1)(c) of Regulation No 6/2002 is to be interpreted to the effect that the concept of ‘acts of reproduction for the purpose of making citations’ includes use by a third party of the image of goods incorporating protected Community designs for purposes of selling its own goods. It is for the national court to ascertain that this act of reproduction is compatible with fair trade practice, that it does not unduly prejudice the normal exploitation of those designs and that mention is made of the source.