They are cheap, but the purchase of design copies can still be an expensive experience
Design furniture can be found in many homes. Most of them are originals, but some of them are copies. Often they are traded through foreign online stores, such as Infurn, as we have written in several articles. And although legislation in other countries may allow the manufacture of such products, it may still be illegal.
– If the product is protected by copyright law, purchases of such products may contribute to copyright violations, lawyer and first-order speaker at Hedmark, Andreas Galtung College, cite. no.
He explains that if the product is to be manufactured legally, the manufacturer must have been authorized by the author or that the furniture differs sufficiently from the original. Or that the product is no longer protected by copyright, which in many countries in Europe is 70 years after the author’s death, including in Norway.
However, a recent verdict in the European Court of Justice may affect individuals who import design copies.
Prohibited to introduce for resale
All furniture taken in the country must pass the border and a customs check. This check is primarily aimed at business owners who will sell the copies further.
“The proprietor of the sale / sale of the trademark, the design, or the patent has an intellectual property right. In practice, it means that pirates can not be imported to Norway for business purposes without the licensee’s permission “writes the Customs Service on its web pages.
– Imports made by private individuals are not regulated in the same way, Deputy Director Liv Rundberget, in the Customs Union, explains..
– But the Customs Union may, on its own initiative, stop copying and contact the licensee. It is this who must do something. In some cases, however, the licensee allows the products to go.
Can also stop importing private individuals
However, according to a recent verdict from the European Court of Justice, private individuals may also risk that Customs in the future will stop their design copies.
– The Norwegian Civil Protection Act protects the use of art such as design furniture, similar to other types of intellectual property. The principle of intellectual property law is that it authorizes the author to produce copies of a work and to make the work available to the public, for example, by offering it for sale, explains partner in law firm Grette, Øystein Flagstad, to click. no.
– This means that imports intended for private use are not initially affected by the Copyright Act.
However, this situation can now be changed, according to the EU judgment.
– In the so-called Rolex judgment from February 2014 a Danish citizen was condemned his fake Rolex watch that he had ordered through a Chinese online store, says Flagstad.
It was the Danish customs system that seized the clock. The person concerned contested this, was convicted in several Danish courts and eventually lost to the European Court of Justice.
– As I interpret this ruling, it may change the legal status of the customs authority’s ability to stop copies of custom art and brands imported for private use, says Flagstad.
– You can risk as a private person that the item you purchased is stopped at the border, even if it is not imported for resale in Norway.
The courts have now come to the conclusion that although the seller’s home country has a lower copyright law, it will still be the law of the importing country that applies.
– The argument is that as long as the work is made available for sale in an EU country, it will be the country’s rules that apply, expands Flagstad.
In another, fairly recent EU verdict from 2012, a freight forwarder was sentenced for co-operation for the import of furniture copies. But even though the goods were lawfully manufactured in the country of origin, the judgment shows that emphasis is placed on the legislation of the country of destination.
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Although the furniture copies were manufactured in Italy with a more lenient copyright regime, the introduction to Germany infringed the copyright provisions there because the marketing was aimed at German consumers and because the seller let the conditions for such sales, Flagstad says.
He finds that there are also ethical concerns about importing design copies.
– Importing such products helps to support a business that undermines the legitimate interests of designers and trademark owners, says Flagstad.
Means import for private use is legal
Law professor Olav Torvund at the University of Oslo believes private imports of copies of design furniture will be legal.
– If the number does not indicate that it might be relevant for resale, he says to click. no.
Ana finds the furniture on the street
– I have, for example, been away in a case where it was taken privately around 20 dining chairs. The number could indicate that it should be resold, but after a discussion with the official importer and statement from the private person that they were for private use only, the importer waived to proceed.
Multiple rules that apply
Those who wish to produce copies of well-known design furniture will, according to Torvund, have to take into account several legislative provisions.
The first will be the copyright protection, providing a term of service of 70 years after the author’s death.
– In terms of design furniture, I do not conclude that they are protected by copyright because the design on a piece of furniture will be a result of the feature that is not protected, “explains Torvund..
Then the design itself could be protected, and here is the term of protection for a maximum of 25 years.
The brand itself, such as Arne Jacobsen’s Egg, could be protected.
– And here is the requirement that the trademark must be in use. Therefore, original products must still be produced. If the trademark has not been used for the last five years, it will no longer be protected, Torvund expands.
Finally, one has the patent itself, that is, the function of the furniture, such as Peter Opsvik’s Tripp-Stair chair.
– A patent will be able to protect for 20 years, “says Torvund, explaining that if the furniture is not protected by copyright laws, copies of it may be lawfully put into production after a maximum of 25 years.
– And these rules vary little within the EU and the EEA.
– Violates copyright
The Danish company Fritz Hansen produces Arne Jacobsen’s furniture on license. They say they face many challenges with regard to so-called copiers who produce Jacobsen duplicates.
– Usually, a cop chooses to create a company in England. From here, they sell their copy products via the internet and from the physical showroom, “says PR Manager Sanne Lund Hansen.. no, who believes that the copyrights violate copyright.
In addition, they exploit our brand and take advantage of the goodwill that belongs to Fritz Hansen, and we use significant resources, also economic, to enforce our rights, she expands.
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