WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 LAWFUEL – Copyright Litigation — Courts in both China and France
have ruled in favor of Fine Arts Lamps, an international manufacturer of
decorative lighting, in two separate copyright infringement lawsuits. At
issue in both cases were the copying, manufacturing, and sale of Fine Arts Lamps’ copyright- protected designs. The Chinese case is being called a landmark decision as the first Chinese court decision to protect lighting fixtures as copyrightable subject matter. The decision was recently identified by the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court as one of its “Top 10” intellectual property cases of 2006.
Fine Arts Lamps filed lawsuits in both China and France after it became
aware that its copyrighted designs were being infringed by Great Beam
Lighting, a lighting fixture manufacturer located in China, and by Anel
Diffusion, a lighting fixture distributor in France.
In defending the lawsuit, Anel claimed that Fine Arts Lamps’ creations were not original and thus Fine Arts Lamps could not claim copyright in any of the 20 creations that Anel displayed at the trade show and were the subject of the lawsuit.
On October 26, 2006, the French court rejected this
defense and ordered the defendants to cease all sales of the 20 lighting
fixture designs. It also ordered the defendants to pay to Fine Arts Lamps
160,000 euros (approximately USD $210,000) in damages, 20,000 euros in
legal fees, and all court costs. Moreover, the French court ordered the
defendants to pay for the publication of the judgment in three publications
to be chosen by Fine Arts Lamps, up to a maximum cost of 3,000 euros per
publication. Anel has appealed the judgment before the Versailles Court of Appeals.
In defense of the lawsuit in China, one defendant denied that it
manufactured the lighting fixtures and distributed the catalogs at issue in
the case, while the other defendant argued that it did not know the
lighting fixtures they sold were infringing, and it had little knowledge of the infringing photos contained in its brochure. On December 19, 2006, in what is apparently a copyright case of first impression in China, the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court’s decision of first instance concluded that the lighting fixture designs at issue are recognized and protected under the Copyright Law of China “as artistic works with
Chinese court decisions are not afforded any
precedential status in China.
The court ordered the defendants to stop all sales of the infringing
designs and to stop printing and distributing the infringing catalogs. The Chinese court awarded approximately USD $25,000 in damages, costs and
attorney fees to be paid to Fine Arts Lamps (damages awards in China are
typically much lower than those in the U.S.) and the defendants were
ordered to publish apologies to Fine Arts Lamps in The Beijing Daily. The
award of public apologies is particularly significant because, in China,
some defendants would prefer to pay more money in damages rather than have
to make public apologies. Both defendants have filed an appeal, which is
“The French and Chinese court judgments are victories for Fine Arts
Lamps, as well as its distributors and customers,” stated Max Blumberg,
Chairman of the company. “Fine Arts Lamps will continue to pursue those who
infringe our original designs, whether the infringers are located in the
U.S. or other parts of the world.”
Fine Arts Lamps is an international manufacturer of distinctive and
prestigious decorative lighting for interior and exterior applications.
Founded in 1941 by Jack Blumberg, the Miami, FL based company offers over
700 original fine lighting designs that are marketed through residential
and contract distributors in more than 59 countries throughout the world.
In the U.S., Fine Arts Lamps is represented by Diane Duhaime and Amor
Rosario of Jorden Burt LLP; in France, by Rebecca Delorey and Nathalie
Ruffin of Gilbey de Haas; and in China by Jianyang Yu and Kai Yang of Liu,
Shen & Associates.
CONTACT: Vickie Gray Lacey Withington
Jorden Burt LLP Levick Strategic Communications
(202) 965-8121 (202) 973-1349
[email protected] [email protected]