Claiming furniture design

Last year, the EU Court passed an important ruling on the relationship between design law and copyright. It was indicated that copyright does not always provide the same protection as a design right. Copyright can only be invoked if an intellectual creation is concerned. This seems to put an end to the ultra-low threshold that was applicable in the Netherlands and with this ruling the importance of claiming design through a design registration has increased considerably.

Spieghel Trading applied for design protection in 2019 for a new line of furniture, the Blackbone series. Characteristics: the elegantly veneered brushed black oak, the wood-like structure, narrow wood strips in a herringbone pattern and, the transparent appearance and the stainless steel piece that gives the impression to float. When Decor Living comes with a similar set (Black Gold), a lawsuit follows.

The argument in defense that the design rights belong to the manufacturer does not hold. Spieghel holds the design registration and is therefore considered to be the party entitled.

The defense that the furniture is not new is also rejected. The furniture deviates sufficiently from the state of the art. The model rights are valid. Decor furniture does not make a different overall impression. Result: the ban is fully upheld.


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MENTOS has been selling chewing gum under the name MENTOS PURE FRESH for several years. In order to protect her rights MENTOS has registered the following trademarks: the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH, the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH 3 and a figurative depiction of the word PURE. Defendant sells chewing gum under the trademark DENTYNE PURE and has registered its logo as a trademark. Infringement or not?