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Copyright: the layout of the shops can be protected

Civil Supreme Court, Section I, 30 April 2020, no. 8433. Pres. Genovese. Est. Iofrida

date: 15.05.2020
Area: Intellectual Property

The Italian Supreme Court has ruled on copyright matters, affirming a principle that extends the applicability of Article 2 no. 5 of the copyright law, i.e. protection as a design or work of architecture to those projects or works of interior design in which “there is a unitary design, with the adoption of a scheme in itself defined and visually appreciable, which reveals a clear “stylistic key”, of organized and coordinated components to make the environment functional and harmonious, or rather the personal imprint of the author”. The requirement of inseparability between furnishing elements and real estate, as well as the fact that the single furnishing elements are simple or common or already used in the sector is, instead, irrelevant. What matters is that the result is an “original combination, not imposed by the author’s will to provide a solution to a technical-functional problem”. The ruling was issued in the Kiko v. Wycon case, concerning the protection of a store design: The Court recognized that the layout of Kiko’s concept store can be protected according to copyright laws and the infringement occurred. However, in other respects, the Court accepts Wycon’s grounds with regards to the alleged unfair competition and the quantum of damages. With regards to the first aspect, the possible parasitic competition of Wycon has not been proved and the related assessment has been referred to the Court of Appeal of Milan, to be subject to a more detailed assessment. As to the second aspect, the Court did not consider it correct that the payment of damages was based on the amount that Kiko would have paid the architect who designed the shop, rather than on the amount that Wycon would have had to pay to Kiko to purchase the copyright on the layout, thus remitting to the Court of Appeal the task of redetermining the damages due.

Copyright: the layout of the shops can be protected

Civil Supreme Court, Section I, 30 April 2020, no. 8433. Pres. Genovese. Est. Iofrida

date: 15.05.2020
Area: Intellectual Property

The Italian Supreme Court has ruled on copyright matters, affirming a principle that extends the applicability of Article 2 no. 5 of the copyright law, i.e. protection as a design or work of architecture to those projects or works of interior design in which “there is a unitary design, with the adoption of a scheme in itself defined and visually appreciable, which reveals a clear “stylistic key”, of organized and coordinated components to make the environment functional and harmonious, or rather the personal imprint of the author”. The requirement of inseparability between furnishing elements and real estate, as well as the fact that the single furnishing elements are simple or common or already used in the sector is, instead, irrelevant. What matters is that the result is an “original combination, not imposed by the author’s will to provide a solution to a technical-functional problem”. The ruling was issued in the Kiko v. Wycon case, concerning the protection of a store design: The Court recognized that the layout of Kiko’s concept store can be protected according to copyright laws and the infringement occurred. However, in other respects, the Court accepts Wycon’s grounds with regards to the alleged unfair competition and the quantum of damages. With regards to the first aspect, the possible parasitic competition of Wycon has not been proved and the related assessment has been referred to the Court of Appeal of Milan, to be subject to a more detailed assessment. As to the second aspect, the Court did not consider it correct that the payment of damages was based on the amount that Kiko would have paid the architect who designed the shop, rather than on the amount that Wycon would have had to pay to Kiko to purchase the copyright on the layout, thus remitting to the Court of Appeal the task of redetermining the damages due.