A copyright infringement case brought by UK folding bike manufacturer Brompton against a South Korean bike maker has drawn to a conclusion in a landmark case that could have wider implications on copyright law.
Get2Get of South Korea is stood accused of infringing the copyright of the manufacturer having begun producing a folding bike of its own following the expiry of a patent. The Asian producer then began manufacturing and selling a folding bike into Belgium, with Brompton quickly objecting to the design similarities.
Get2Get argued in its defence that the appearance of its design was dictated by the technical solution desired; a bicycle that can fold in to three.
Initially the Belgium Companies Court was unable to establish whether a copyright could apply to shapes “necessary to obtain a technical result”, so the case was escalated to the Court of Justice of the European Union, which has now passed a decision.
The ruling, which sets a new precedent that could be applicable outside of the bicycle industry, hands designers and businesses a new range of possibilities in copyright protection and enforcement of those protections in Europe.
The CJEU concluded that copyright protection was indeed applicable for products whose shape is, in full or in part, required to obtain the technical result. In a small but important detail, the CJEU said that copyright protection stems from the expression of ideas and no necessarily the idea itself.
A previous case 2019 in Cofemel (C-683/17), was considered in reaching the verdict.
Brompton recently gave CI.N insight into its supply and demand hurdles faced during the Covid-19 outbreak. The Greenford manufacturer has suggested that an increase in the prevalence of cycling infrastructure around the globe has led to a surge in demand for its commuter-suited folding bikes.