Fischertechnik Prevails in Copyright Case though Established Models Fail Work Test
Shanghai IP Court recently made a final ruling on a copyright infringement and unfair competition case between the Germany- based Fischertechnik GmbH Company and Shanghai Dongfang Training Aid Company/Shanghai Yaxun Intelligent Robot Company, ordering the two defendants to cease infringing copyright of Fischertechnik's figure works and 30 model works. In parallel, the Court also awarded 500,000 yuan in damages, the maximum amount of statutory damages under the Chinese Copyright Law.
The Fischertechnik Model which contains various kinds of components was launched to the market in January 2004 by Fischertechnik GmbH, one of the members of Fischer Group. Fischertechnik.GmbH held that the established 30 drawings of static models and 102 components and assemble steps in installation manual can be deemed as sketches protected by the Chinese Copyright Law, while the established 30 static models can be deemed as three-dimensional works.
Fischertechnik GmbH found that the creative model- a combination of structural and mechanical principle produced by the two defendants was an utter imitation of Fischertechnik GmbH's model, violating its authorship right, reproduction right and publication right. Fischertechnik then sought an injunction and damages of one million yuan.
The two defendants argued that drawings of the static models, components and assembly steps of Fischertechnik's model was limited in expression, which can not be protected by the law. The 30 established static models were just intermediate processes, but not three- dimensional works. So no infringement was constituted.
The Court of first-instance held that the drawings of the static models, components and assemble steps can be deemed as figure work, while the static model can not be regarded as work. Consequently the Court ordered an injunction and 160,000 yuan in damages. The disgruntled Fischertechnik GmbH then brought the case to Shanghai IP Court.
"There are two controversies in the case. The first is whether the established static model deemed as model work. The second is whether the products in question distributed by the two defendants infringed the copyright of 30 model works," said the presiding judge Shang Jiangang. The Court of first instance held that it can not be deemed as work because the three- dimensional model has not come into shape. In this case, the three- dimensional shape can be deemed as model work, but not art work or three-dimensional work. Although the two defendants did not copy the model works directly, they used the copyright in producing and distribution of products in question. In this regard, they violate the copyright of the right holder. In this connection, the IP Court made the above final decision.