Viken, Sweden - December 10, 2001
Välinge Aluminium AB welcomes judgement from Swedish Court of Appeal in copyright dispute against Pergo.
On 7 December 2001, the Court of Appeal in Malmö, Sweden, adopted an important judgement in which it declared that a certain patent drawing made by Välinge is protected by copyright. The history of the case goes back to september1994, when Pergo was provided with a drawing from Välinge showing Välinges first invention (for which a patent had then not yet been granted) in the field of mechanical locking systems, in the context of co-operation discussions between the parties. Pergo signed a confidentiality undertaking and subsequently turned down Välinges co-operation proposals. The same drawing appeared in a patent application filed by Pergo shortly after Välinges own application was made public.
In 1996, Välinge brought an action before the District Court of Trelleborg for a declaration that Välinges drawing is protected by copyright and that Pergo committed copyright infringement by copying the drawing and by using it in the context of Pergos own patent application where it was stated that the drawing showed the Pergo invention. Originally, Pergo denied that it had copied Välinges drawing. However, Perstorps patent manager, admitted when heard as a witness that the drawing had been copied by him personally on behalf of Pergo using a Xerox machine, the only alteration being that he erased some of Välinges numerical references and replaced them by Pergos own. In its judgement, the district court refused to accept Välinges claim on the ground that the drawing was too simple to qualify for protection under the Swedish Copyright Act.
Välinge appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Court decided to divide the procedure into two parts and to render an intermediate judgement on the issue of whether or not the drawing in question qualifies for copyright protection (postponing the issue of whether Pergo is guilty of copyright infringement). In its judgement of 7 December, the Court held that the drawing is a result of the drawers own creation and that it has a sufficient number of distinctive features in order to qualify as a literary work protected by copyright.
The Court of Appeal will now, as a second step, decide whether Pergo has infringed Välinges copyright by copying the drawing and using it as described above. Provided that an infringement is deemed to have occurred, Välinge intends to claim compensation from Pergo for the considerable damage incurred by Välinge as a consequence of Pergos act. By using Välinges drawing in its own patent application, Pergo has in Välinge´s view attempted to create the false impression that the invention has in fact been created by Pergo rather than Välinge. This has created difficulties for Välinge trying to explain to licensees and other market actors that the invention in reality belongs to Välinge. By misleading the market and at the same time trying to avoid obtaining a regular licence in respect of the technology in question, Pergo has caused much damage that could have been fatal to Välinge in a sensitive early phase of the companys development.
Välinge views the judgement of 7 December as an important decision not only for Välinge but for Swedish industry in general as it clearly establishes the unlawfulness of copying other inventors´ technical drawings and hopefully contributes to limiting the frequency of the kind of business ethics represented by Pergo in this case.
About Välinge Aluminium
The company Välinge Aluminium AB works in the field of mechanical locking systems for floorings. This work comprises the development of locking systems together with production equipment and techniques. Members of the staff in Välinge Aluminium invented and introduced the laminate flooring 1977, at that time employed by Perstorp AB.
Välinge and its licensees constitute one of the largest flooring
groups in the world and they are determined to defend their patent rights
against all infringers. Extensive legal actions have been initiated
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