18th jun, 2008

Danish High Court pro pirate??

Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet reports that there is a tendency in the Danish High Court to acquit companies sonvicted in lower courts of pirating trademarked goods. Companies like Puma, Bestseller, Diesel and AstraZeneca have experienced having convictions in lower courts overturned by the Danish High Court. A lawyer speculates that the consideration of competition takes precedence over IP-protection.

I haven´t read the cases mentioned in the article but it is interesting if there is a tendency towards favoring copies which are close to the original, when companies increasingly are relying on their IP. This mean that the companies will seek broader protection and have to rely on more IP regimes…eg both trademark, design and copyright for the same product. This will in turn increase company costs and thereby consumer prices.

Responses

Or maybe it will actually increase competition and keep prices down…. (and counteract the effect of the monopolies conferred by IP-laws)?

That is indeed a possibility. But generic competition must be seperated from piracy – 100%copying. Generic drugs are a good source of competition but is a fake Puma shirt the same?

Fake Puma shirts are definitely a source of competition. You could argue that it is not a legitimate source of competition – just as your could for generic drugs, if you think that patents should never expire.

The Pirate Party does not see trademarks as a protection of the company using a brand. We see it as a protection of the consumer. If you buy a Puma-branded shirt, you should be able to trust that it is really produced by Puma AG. So the Pirate Party is not against trademarks.

We are, however, critical of attempts to use trademark law to stop competition or critique when there is no risk of consumer confusion. For example, we think it should be legal for anybody who does not like Puma to set up a website http://www.puma-sucks.com and use registered Puma trademarks on the site as long as there is no risk of the consumer thinking it is an official Puma site.

As for the recent decisions in the Danish High Court, I do not know the specific cases. But I would be very surprised if these cases were about straight trademark piracy (ie. using the trademarked name/logo and a product made to look as much as possible like the original trademarked product). Perhaps the media is (again, again) confusing trademarks and other forms of “intellectual property” law. If anybody has a copy of the court documents, I would be very interested.

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