Furniture, lamps and the designer decisions
During the first months of 2018 two decisions have already been issued from the Swedish Courts of Appeal in cases of copyright infringement regarding works of applied arts. One of them is the so called Designers Revolt case which we wrote about during the fall of 2016 when the Court of first instance issued its decision. Read that article here.
The decision in the Designers Revolt case was issued by the Swedish Patent and Market Court of Appeal at the end of January. A company had, through its online store, for a three-year period sold cheap copies of classic designer furniture and lamps by, among others, Arne Jacobsen. The company was registered on the Isle of Man, where the designer items were no longer covered by copyright protection. The Court, however, held that the original works were still protected in Sweden and that the company was considered to have committed copyright infringement as well as trademark infringement. The company had both stock and distribution in Sweden and all of the actual handling of the goods had taken place in Sweden. The business had been run for a considerable time and had been well-organized. It further concerned hundreds of protected products and had a large turnover, almost 50 million Swedish crowns. Three of the persons involved were convicted of copyright and trademark infringement and one for complicity in copyright infringement. So far, the Court of Appeal has made a similar assessment as the Court of first instance. However, the sentence determined for the fourth person was a conditional sentence, while the others were sentenced to imprisonment for one and a half and two years respectively. Hence, the penalties were increased, but the damages reduced substantially. They were sentenced to pay damages of a total of 1.5 million Swedish crowns, compared to the 27 million Swedish crowns that the Court of first instance had granted and also significantly lower than what the injured parties had demanded, namely approximately 62.5 million Swedish crowns.
Just one week later, Svea Court of Appeal also issued a decision in a case regarding copyright infringement. A Swedish furniture company had, for a period of almost one year, sold imitations of three different designer lamps, by Arne Jacobsen, among others. The CEO of the company was convicted of copyright infringement and given a conditional sentence and a fine and he was obliged to, together with the company, pay compensation for using the works. Also in this case, the Court of Appeal reduced the amount of the compensation considerably, from about 1.5 million Swedish crowns to approximately 60 000 Swedish crowns.