In Sweden, works protected by copyright are protected for 70 years after the originators death. The reason for this long period of protection is to ensure that the surviving relatives will have a livelihood. Some furniture and designs can be considered to have such a degree of originality that they are regarded as works protected by copyright. In the EU in general and at large the same term of protection as above is applied. However, for furniture and applied art some countries apply a shorter term of protection. In the UK, these works are only protected for 25 years from the day of creation, thus a considerably shorter time than 70 years after the originator’s death.
Several companies have taken advantage of this fact and have had its base of sale of so-called replica classics in the UK. One such company is DesignersRevolt, which is owned by the Swede Lennart Nyberg. On DesignersRevolt website one has been able to buy copies of furniture of, for example, the spouses Eames, Poul Henningsen and Arne Jacobsen and furniture by Poul Kjaerholm and Le Corbusier. Sales have inter alia been focusing on the Swedish market.
Swedish police and prosecutors have acted against DesignersRevolt in Sweden and in December 2015 charges were brought against four people involved in the furniture company when it turned out that the company has warehouses in Sweden.
Today when one enters the website of DesignersRevolt it is disabled and a text box states:
Dear Customer, please note that until we have clarity on the upcoming changes to UK copyright law, we are suspending sales.
The reason for this text is that decisions on changes to the terms of protection in the UK have now been taken. As of July 28, 2016, the same rules apply in the UK as in Sweden, that is, for applied art and furniture, exhibiting originality, the terms of protection is 70 years after the originator’s death. Accordingly, some works in the UK will go from being freely copied one day to be protected against copying for a long time to come. Certain transitional rules will apply for a period up to January 28, 2017.
If you have any questions, please contact Joakim Sånglöf at BRANN.