Occasionally, the passage of a law that we had never heard about can have a capital influence on our way of life or our consumption of certain products. It is what has happened with one new law approved by the European Parliament which has extended the copyright of design furniture from 25 to 70 years After the death of the author. What does this mean? Now we can go throwing us buy iconic pieces at low price. And much more.
Parts affected this new law?
So far, the Act allowed that replicas of any piece of furniture were made after 25 years after the death of its author. Now, this period extends to 70 years. Pulling of mathematics, therefore, it follows that the law affects the parts designed by authors who died between 1946 and 1991. If add you to this temporary fork boom, that lasts several years, iconic mid-century the last parts, is easy to imagine these are the hardest.
On the left, original Barcelona chair, marketed by Knoll. On the right, marketed by Muebledesign replica.
The MR90 Chair, Mies van der Rohe, better known as ‘Barcelona chair’ is a good example. The original model, marketed by Knoll, 5.592 dollars (about 5,000 euros, approximately), in its cheapest configuration. On the other hand, replicas, you can find from 399 euros.
The same is true with the Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen, the Eileen Gray table or the ubiquitous Arc lamp, just some examples.
What will happen now?
The United Kingdom was the first country to legislate from the new European regulations. Although, initially, the idea was to enact a moratorium so that it could continue to sell replicas until 2020, the pressure of the promoters of the law has done that the Government has decided to come into force in January of 2017. I.e., distributors of replicas (most of them manufactured in China) have these four months to get rid of the stock. Already spoken, in some media, a real fever to be done with the final pieces of furniture until prices multiply exponentially.
But, as usual… the law, made the trap. David Woods, a copyright Attorney consulted by The Guardian, puts the focus on the key word: inspiration. Because it is true that from January may not purchase exact replicas of the famous pieces of furniture, but we are confident that there will be hundreds of pieces inspired by them. «Identify which line can not be crossed when inspired by a classic piece is not an exact science, so it should be the courts who decide whether or not an infringement of copyright».
And what about the fashion world?
The protection of copyright in the fashion industry is complicated. Even leaving out question falsifications, which constitute a criminal offence, since someone is using the image of a brand that does not belong to you, there is much to talk about the rights of the authors of cloned designs.
On the one hand, can be considered as something utilitarian, garments so intellectual property law is not applicable to them. It is possible to register a pledge (or a complete collection) within the framework of the Industrial design Act, though, says the lawyer Ana Soto, partner of the law firm Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira, in this article, the registration of a collection of some 300 garments can cost between 25,000 and 40,000 euros.
We have put us in contact with the lawyers specialized in trademark José Mariano Cruz and Inmaculada López, of the law firm Eversheds Nicea, to shed some light on the matter. First, explain us the Industrial design Act sets in 5 years the time for the protection of the rights of a registered fashion design. This period can be renewed every 5 years, up to a maximum of 25 total.
Would apply in the case of companies, the concept of ‘community design’. In this case, it is limited to 3 years, and is a kind of registration by default, i.e., it is not necessary to register items anywhere, its output on sale already makes relevant and are not needed more tests in the future on your property. In reality, this registration does not give any recognition to the author, but it simply prevents use the designs to third parties.
If the iconic Yves Saint Laurent Tuxedo is exhibited in museums… does mean that it is a work of art?
But there is another possibility. According to us José Mariano Cruz and Inmaculada López, a fashion design could enter in the framework of the law of intellectual property if it is considered a work of art (this Act protects literally, scientific, literary and artistic works). If so, as in the case of furniture, it would have to wait 70 years from the death of the author to be able to commercialize an exact replica. I.e., already we could go bouncing exact copies of the little black dress by Chanel or Givenchy or of the in the purest style Saint Laurent Tuxedo (although that never happens because they are always inspired versions). So hard to prove such concepts, the debate is served: how much is there art and how much useful in the world of fashion?