Infringement in copyright to a boat

In case PMT 11062-16, the Swedish Patent and Market Court of Appeal had to decide whether a motor boat, model Nord West 420 Flybridge, was protected by copyright and whether a competitor’s boat, model Nord West 430 Flybridge, was infringing on that right. The court concluded that the boat was protected by copyright since the creator had made free and creative choices resulting in an intellectual creation. The Nord West 430 Flybridge was essentially a copy of the original boat and was therefore an infringement according to Swedish law.

What is covered by copyright has varied over time since perceptions of what constitutes art is in constant change. However, it is clear that the Swedish copyright law is becoming increasingly liberal and that more and more objects receive protection.

This raises the question; if even a boat can be protected by copyright law, why should we invest in design protection? Well, there are several reasons. First of all, this is a Swedish phenomenon. Even if the product might be protected under Swedish copyright law it is not safe to assume that it would be the case abroad. Design law on the other hand is completely harmonised within the EU, and relatively harmonised in the rest of the world. Furthermore, it is not possible to register a copyright in Sweden. This means that the only way to determine a copyright is in court, which can be both expensive and time consuming. Last but not least, the scope of protection is wider for a registered design than for a copyright. A copyright only covers identical or semi-identical products, while a design right covers all products that give the informed user the same overall impression.

Feel free to contact Emma if you want to discuss this case.