NEW DANISH RULING ON REPLICA FURNITURE
Danish consumers are very fond of designer furniture, and interior products are purchased like never before. Design classics like “The Swan” and “The Egg” by Danish designer Arne Jacobsen are selling fast - and not just in Denmark, but also abroad where replicas of the Danish designs can be bought cheaply and shipped to Denmark.
The cheaper replica furniture found in Denmark mostly comes from England, where companies are allowed to produce and sell copies of famous furniture designs, as the English copyright law only provides protection for 25 years - and not 70 years, as it is the case for Denmark. Because of this, Danish consumers are able to buy replicas from England and get them delivered in Denmark - for only a fraction of the price of the originals.
The European Court of Justice, however, has ruled that the British restriction on protection furniture is in violation of EU law, and England therefore decided in 2013 that their copyright law as to be amended to provide the same protection as other EU countries. The amendment, however, still hasn’t been put in effect, and as of today there are still no official plans for when the changes will come into force. This means that Danish consumers (and others) are still able to buy replica furniture from the English market.
A new ruling from the Danish Maritime and Commercial Court has, however, given the English replica furniture companies a serious problem, as the Court ruled last month that the two English companies Interior Addict and Nlini Interios have violated the Danish copyright law by selling furniture replicas to Denmark - even though the replicas are fully legal under English law.
The ruling determines that Danish law must be applied, when sellers abroad directly target the Danish consumers. In the case, the defendant companies had done just that by using Google adds directed at Denmark and by using adds in Danish news papers. The webshops of both companies were available in Danish with the possibility of ordering furniture delivered in Denmark - and one of the companies even had a Danish customer support.
Furthermore the English companies had infringed upon the trademark rights to the Danish design furniture, as the companies had used the trademarked title of the furniture on their webshops. It made no difference to the case that the companies had added the word “replica” at the end of each title, as it was still a trademark infringement.
Even though the furniture in question did not violate any English laws, the acts of Interior Addict and Nlini Interios were deemed to be a violation of both Danish copyright law, trademark law and marketing law. The plaintiffs demanded damages and remuneration of more then 1 million DKK, but the court, however, did not agree to this, as the plaintiffs had not been able to proof any loss. In stead the court awarded the plaintiffs 200.000 DKK for market disruption.
The ruling is interesting as it determines once and for all that marketing and selling replica furniture directly to Denmark is not allowed. Even though the furniture is not protected under English law, the direct targeted marketing towards Denmark means that Danish law applies.
The English replica furniture will not be stopped until the English authorities acts and puts the change copyright legislation into force, but the ruling from the Danish Maritime and Commercial Court shows that any direct marketing and sale of the replica furniture to the Danish market will not be tolerated..