Copy­right for design on the beer can 5.0

Copyright for design on the beer can 5.0
Copy­right for design on the beer can 5.0

The Regio­nal Court of Ham­burg ruled on 07.07.2016 that a copy­right exists for design on the beer can 5.0(Ref.: 310 O 212/14).

The lawsu­it was filed by the design agen­cy that had desi­gned the beer con­tai­ners. This design was also used by other com­pa­nies wit­hout per­mis­si­on, whereu­pon the design agen­cy asser­ted copy­rights. The Regio­nal Court found the designs to be pro­tec­ted by copy­right as works of appli­ed art (Sec­tion 2 (1) no. 4, (2) UrhG).

On the ques­ti­on of what is cover­ed by copy­right pro­tec­tion, see our artic­le “The Work in Copy­right”.

Neces­sa­ry indi­vi­dua­li­ty is given

In order to be a work wort­hy of pro­tec­tion, it must be a per­so­nal crea­ti­on that has an intellec­tu­al con­tent, has the neces­sa­ry form design and has suf­fi­ci­ent indi­vi­dua­li­ty. It was ques­tionable in the pre­sent case whe­ther the neces­sa­ry level of crea­ti­on in the sen­se of indi­vi­dua­li­ty had been rea­ched.

In this regard, the jud­ges refer­red to the “Bir­th­day Train” decis­i­on of the Fede­ral Court of Jus­ti­ce from 2013(Ref.: BGH I ZR 143/12). In this case, the Fede­ral Court of Jus­ti­ce had ruled that, in prin­ci­ple, no dif­fe­rent requi­re­ments are to be pla­ced on works of appli­ed art than on the copy­right pro­tec­tion of other works. Thus, it is suf­fi­ci­ent that the works of appli­ed art have a level of design that, accor­ding to the per­cep­ti­on of art by reason­ab­ly fami­li­ar cir­cles, can be descri­bed as an “artis­tic” achie­ve­ment.

Accor­ding to the jud­ges, the level of crea­ti­on of the design in the spe­ci­fic case would result from the com­bi­na­ti­on of the simp­le, clear, redu­ced fea­tures of the design, font, arran­ge­ment and color sche­me. This would result in a purist, pure, unadul­tera­ted design that does not con­flict with indi­vi­dua­li­ty, but is pre­cis­e­ly dif­fe­rent from the fami­li­ar designs of beer pro­ducts.

The fact that other pro­ducts have alre­a­dy used sim­pli­ci­ty and purism does not con­tra­dict this, but rather it depends on the appli­ca­ti­on of the style in the spe­ci­fic man­ner.

Con­clu­si­on: Copy­right for design on beer can 5.0

Beer con­tai­ners can be pro­tec­ted by copy­right as works if they have the neces­sa­ry indi­vi­dua­li­ty.

If you have any ques­ti­ons or need assis­tance with a copy­right inf­rin­ge­ment dis­pu­te, plea­se feel free to cont­act us by pho­ne at 0221–4201074, by email at info@rehkatsch.de, or sche­du­le an appoint­ment with our law firm.

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