dimanche, mai 01, 2011

Denmark: Damages, compensation and a fine for illegal use of architecture drawings

On January 6 2011 the Supreme Court ruled in SeaWest v De jyske Arkitekter (Case 378/2007).

In 2004 an entrepreneur asked a firm of architects to create an outline plan for a "skipper's house". The architects created the outline plan and offered to plan an unspecified number of houses for a total price of Dkr188,000.

The entrepreneur rejected the offer, but thereafter, despite the architects' objections, built 144 skipper's houses as part of a major project of approximately 300 holiday homes. In a newspaper article in connection with the project, another firm of architects was mentioned in connection with the houses.

The architects made a claim for payment of fees, compensation for loss of contribution margin and compensation and the imposition of a fine for the illegal use of the drawings.

The entrepreneur admitted that he had violated the architects' copyright, but claimed that the compensation could be no higher than the amount which the architects had claimed in the 2004 offer.

The High Court found that the entrepreneur had deliberately violated the architects' copyright, and that thus it must pay compensation under Article 83(1)(1) of the Copyright Act. Following a statement from a relevant professional organisation, the total amount was estimated at Dkr1.625 million, including value added tax (VAT). This included compensation of Dkr37,500, including VAT, for non-economic damage due to the architects' lack of exposure in connection with building the houses and a fine of Dkr30,000. The architects were not compensated for loss of contribution margin. In addition, the entrepreneur was ordered to pay Dkr140,000 in costs.

The Supreme Court upheld the High Court's decision and ordered the entrepreneur to pay Dkr82,500 in costs.

For further information on this topic please contact Mads Marstrand-Jørgensen at Norsker & Co by telephone (+45 33 43 31 00), fax (+45 33 13 38 38) or email (mmj@norsker.dk).