With the ruling in the so-called Cofemel decision, the EU courts hold that designs are protected by copyright if the appearance is the result of designers’ creative choices. This has settled the demands that so far many countries have made that the use of art can only be protected by copyright in the case of particularly creative works. Rules that in many countries have made copyright protection of utility art virtually impossible.
The case originated in Portugal and concerned the question whether the fashion company G-Star may claim copyright for the creative appearance of their jeans. The Portuguese Supreme Court had asked the European Court of Justice whether Portugal could uphold its national rules, according to which copyright protection could be considered only if the appearance met specific aesthetic requirements. The European Court of Justice ruled that Member States could not impose such special requirements.
The verdict will probably have relatively limited significance in Denmark, although the Supreme Court’s ruling that the use of art is only protected against particularly imitating imitations now stands for decline. However, in other EU countries such as the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany and Portugal, the verdict is expected to be very important, and it is a great victory for the protection of the arts of use.