News about counterfeited products - an end to the Anne Black case

On 23 March 2023, the Supreme Court brought an end to the case between Anne Black, Ronald and Salling Group about the counterfeited products imitating Anne Black's hanging flowerpot, vase and jar. The Supreme Court decision contains some interesting conclusions in relation to the award of the economic compensation in this type of cases.

The ceramicist Anne Black created three ceramic products in 2013-2014: a hanging flowerpot, a vase and a jar with a lid. In 2016, Salling Group marketed and sold a similar hanging flowerpot, vase and jar in Netto as a special deal. Anne Black then initiated legal proceedings against Salling Group and their supplier Ronald, claiming infringement of the above-mentioned ceramic products.

The Maritime and Commercial High Court found that all of the three products enjoyed copyright protection as well as protection under the Danish Marketing Practices Act. Moreover, the Maritime and Commercial High Court found that Anne Black's rights and market position had been infringed.

The Eastern High Court and the Supreme Court both found in their decisions that only Anne Black's hanging flowerpot enjoyed copyright protection. Both instances found, however, that the three products enjoyed protection under the Marketing Practices Act, also ruling that Anne Black's rights and market position had been infringed.

The Danish media have covered this story extensively, among other things due to the question of economic compensation because of the infringement having taken place.  

The Maritime and Commercial High Court awarded Anne Black DKK 1.5 million in economic compensation; an amount almost four times higher than Salling Group's turnover from the sale of the counterfeited products. The Eastern High Court reduced this amount to DKK 300,000; which is a fifth of the amount awarded in the first instance. 

The Supreme Court has now put an end to the case and awarded Anne Black DKK 1 million in economic compensation. However, it is worth mentioning that Anne Black had claimed payment of DKK 3 million in the Supreme Court case, and that the awarded compensation thus only covers a third of the claimed amount.

What is especially interesting about the Supreme Court's award of economic compensation is that the Supreme Court lowered the threshold required for evidence regarding the loss suffered due to the nature and severity of Ronald and Salling Group's infringement of Anne Black's rights.

The case about Anne Black's products also contains interesting conclusions about the significance of the media in this type of cases as well as the scope of protection regarding the appearance of products. 

Do you want to know more?

Read the decision (in Danish) 

This case and other interesting cases are discussed in Kasper Frahm and Michala Kragmann's book on counterfeited products "Produktefterligningner i praksis" (Product imitation case law). You can also read more about the book on the publishers website.

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