INVALIDITY OF A DESIGN (CASE T‑256/21)
The company Domator24.com Paweł Nowak registered in 2016 before the EUIPO a Registered Community Design (RCD), for a product in class 06.01 of the Locarno Classification, classified as a “chair”.
MM. Piotr Siwek et Sebastian Didyk filed an application for declaration of invalidity of the above-mentioned RCD, claiming that pursuant to article 25.1.b) of the Regulation 6/2002, the design did not fulfil the requirements of novelty and individual character.
As a reminder to our readers, novelty and individual character are two requirements for the designs to be registered, as stated in articles 5 and 6 of the Regulation 6/2002. A design is considered novel if it has not previously been disclosed to the public and it may possess individual character if it significantly differs from known designs or combinations of known designs features.
The Cancellation Division of the EUIPO, and at a later stage the Boards of Appeal (BoA) of the EUIPO, upheld the invalidity request.
The company Domator24.com Paweł Nowak lodged an appeal before the General Court (GC), claiming the existence of the distinctive character.
From its side, the GC considered that the design had been previously disclosed to the public, and that therefore the novelty requirement cannot be ascertained.
In the second place, the appellant argued that there was a saturation of the state of the art with regard to gaming chairs. The Court stated that the designer had a high degree of freedom with regard to “the shape, form and size of the gaming chair, the configuration of the components of the gaming chair and the choice of materials, colours, ornaments and patterns of the gaming chair”.
In the third place, the Court held that the individual character of a design should be assessed from an overall impression of difference or lack of “déjà vu”, from the point of view of the informed user. The shape of the product is one essential characteristic that attracts the informed user’s attention, hence the differences should be sufficiently relevant and not just insignificant details. However, in the present case, the colours and patterns were not sufficient to create a different impression in the perception of the informed user since it is common for the same model of gaming chair to be offered with different patterns and colours.
Consequently, there were enough factors for the Court to consider that the differences were not sufficient to create a different overall impression. Hence, the Court dismissed the appeal and confirmed the BoA’s decision.
MARIAH CAREY SUED FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT
Earlier this month, Mariah Carey has been sued for copyright infringement over one of her most well-known songs “All I want for Christmas Is You”. The singer co-wrote the song that came out in 1994 and since then, it has been one of the biggest Christmas hits ever.
The lawsuit was filed by the songwriter Andy Stone (one of the members of the pop-band Vince Vance & the Valiants), who co-wrote a song in 1989 with the homonymous title “All I Want for Christmas Is You”. The plaintiff argued that as his song was released 5 years before Carey’s one, so she should have sought an authorisation to use the same title.
Consequently, the plaintiff accused Carey of copyright infringement, unjust enrichment and misappropriation, due to the unauthorised use of the song title, and for this reason, he asked for an economic compensation of 20 million USD for damages.
According to the lawsuit, the aim pursued by Carey when using an identical title, was to cause confusion among consumers, who might have bought Carey's song instead of Stone's. As a consequence, Stone claims to have suffered financial loss due to this false endorsement.
However, the two songs differed substantially from a musical perspective, as they have completely different lyrics and melody.
Generally speaking, song titles cannot be protected by copyright since usually the combination of words is not sufficiently original. Conversely, song lyrics can be protected by copyright as they entail a longer combination of words and therefore, a higher degree of originality. However, in this case, the refrain seems to be the only identical part in both songs. In principle, there are no other substantial similarities that can motivate the copyright infringement claim, and therefore, it would appear unlikely that the claim will be upheld.
We will keep you posted with the updates of the case!
- Publication date
- 9 June 2022
- European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency