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With the new copyright laws, we can no longer have any of these iconic furniture. Will the same happen with clothes?

Sometimes, the approval of a law that we had never heard of can have a major influence on our lifestyle or our consumption of certain products. It's what happened with a new law passed by the European Parliament that has extended the copyright of furniture design from 25 to 70 years after the death of the author. What does this mean? That we can say goodbye to buy iconic pieces at a low price. And much more.

What pieces does this new law affect?

So far, the law allowed replicas of any piece of furniture to be made after 25 years after the death of its author. Now, that term is extended to 70 years. Pulling math, therefore, it follows that the law affects the pieces designed by deceased authors between 1946 and 1991. If we add to this temporary fork the boom, which lasts a few years, for the iconic pieces of the middle of the last century, it is easy to imagine that these will be the most affected.

On the left, original Barcelona chair, marketed by Knoll. On the right, replica marketed by Muebledesign.

The MR90 chair, by Mies van der Rohe, better known as 'Barcelona chair' is a good example. The original model, marketed by Knoll, costs $ 5,592 (about 5,000 euros, approximately), in its cheapest configuration. The replicas, however, can be found from 399 euros. The same goes for the Egg chair from Arne Jacobsen, the Eileen Gray tables or the omnipresent Arco lamp, to give just a few examples.

What will happen from now on?

The United Kingdom has been the first country to legislate from the new European regulations. Although, at the outset, the idea was to promulgate a moratorium so that replicas could continue to be sold until 2020, the pressure of law enforcement has caused The government has decided to enter into force in January 2017. That is, replica dealers (most of them, made in China) have these four months to get rid of the stock. There is already talk, in some media, of a real fever for getting the last pieces of furniture before prices multiply exponentially.

But, as usual ... made the law, cheated. David Woods, a lawyer specialized in copyright consulted by The guardian, focus on the keyword: inspiration. Because it is true that as of January you will not be able to buy exact replicas of the famous pieces of furniture, but we are sure that hundreds of pieces will emerge inspired by they. "Identifying which line cannot be crossed when inspired by a classic piece is not an exact science, so it will be the courts who decide whether or not there is a copyright infringement."

And what about the fashion world?

Copyright protection in the fashion industry is complicated. Even leaving out the question of falsifications, which constitute a criminal offense, since someone is using the image of a brand that does not belong to him, there is much to talk about the rights of design authors cloned.

On the one hand, clothing items can be considered as utilitarian, so the intellectual property right is not applicable to them. It is possible to register a garment (or a complete collection) within the framework of the Industrial Design Law, although, according to 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 contacted the lawyers specializing in trademark rights José Mariano Cruz and Inmaculada López, from the Eversheds Nicea law firm, to shed some light on the matter. First, they explain to us that the Industrial Design Law fixes in 5 years the Protection time of the rights of a registered fashion design. That period can be renewed every 5 years again, up to a maximum of 25 in total.

In the case of companies, the concept of 'community design'. In this case, it is limited to 3 years and is a kind of record default, that is to say, it is not necessary to register the garments in any place, since their sale for sale already makes it relevant and no further proof is needed in the future about their property. In reality, this registration does not grant any recognition to the author, but simply prevents the use of the designs from third parties.

If Yves Saint Laurent's iconic tuxedo is displayed in museums ... does that mean it is a work of art?

But there is another possibility. As José Mariano Cruz and Inmaculada López explain to us, a fashion design could fall within the framework of the Intellectual Property Law if it is considered an artistic work (this law literally protects scientific, literary and artistic works). If so, as in the case of furniture, we would have to wait 70 years from the author's death to be able to market an exact replica. That is, we could say goodbye to the exact copies of the little black dress from Chanel or Givenchy or of the tuxedo in the purest Saint Laurent style (although that never happens because they are always versions inspired). With concepts as difficult to demonstrate as these, the debate is served: how much of art and how much useful in the world of fashion?

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