Sweden 22 Nov 2017
The textile pattern on the seat covers of Stockholm’s underground as well as commuter train seats was created by the well-known Swedish artist Lasse Åberg. Luleå Local Transport (LLT) has later designed a textile pattern that Mr. Åberg claimed as being very similar to his own textile pattern and brought forward to the The Svensk Form Copyright Panel for its legal opinion. The Panel decided that LLT has not infringed Mr. Åberg’s copyright.
In 2015 Lasse Åberg was asked if he also designed the textile pattern for Luleå Local Transport. When he saw the pattern, he experienced it as plagiarism and complained to the panel. The textile pattern he has created consists of stylized motifs of well-known buildings in Stockholm on a blue background. Lasse Åberg believes that the LLT’s pattern is essentially identical to his own textile pattern and it is obvious that the pattern was used as a model for LLT’s fabric.
Luleå Local Transport (located in the north of Sweden) hired a design agency to produce a pattern with its own profiling to highlight Luleå as a city. The pattern consists of silhouettes of buildings that are specific to Luleå. They contend that the pattern is not identical to Mr. Åberg’s pattern, it differs in content, style, additional background colors and also placement of the motifs. Thus, the patterns do not show significant similarities based on an overall assessment.
The Svensk Form Copyright Panel’s decision and assessment:
The decision of the panel is that Lasse Åberg’s textile pattern is protected as a work of applied art according to the Copyright Act, but that Luleå Local Transport’s pattern does not fall within the range of the protection and thus does not infringe.
According to the panel, the possibilities of variation in textile patterns is large. Lasse Åberg’s textile pattern is not considered to express a higher degree of originality. However, the simple, characteristic and playful style, the color choice for the different motifs, the background color and, above all, the way the motifs are placed in relation to each other gives the composition as a whole a distinct personal touch. It is therefore considered that the pattern meets the threshold of originality and distinctive character.
The pattern used by LLT is similar to Mr. Åberg’s to the fact that it has a blue background and that the motifs are made in sketch form. The patterns differ significantly since the same playfulness in the individual elements is not found in the LLT pattern, it does not share the color scheme nor the location of the motifs on the fabric and/or its relation to each other. The Panel does not consider that there is an infringement since there are different buildings depicted and that the overall impression does not show sufficient similarities.
About The Svensk Form Copyright Panel
The Svensk Form Copyright Panel is an impartial expert body within Svensk Form (the Swedish Society of Crafts and Design). The panel’s task is to express an opinion regarding copyright protection for works of applied art