Injunction against Danish Company that intended to sell Wristwatches characterized by the Dial, which was a cut from the Tal R Painting "Paris Chic"

Date 6 dec. 2019
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A Danish company offered watches on its website, where - according to the company - they would create small unique and separate works of art in the form of wristwatches where the dial was a 4 cm diameter cut from the painting “Paris Chic”. Paris Chic is a well-known painting created by the Danish artist Tal Rosenzweig, known as Tal R. The company's website stated: "What happens when you take an original work of art and transform it into something else?"

 

The watches were put up for sale through an online auction in which the winner could choose which piece of the painting they wished for the watch dial. When Tal R became acquainted with the company’s project, he contacted them and asked them to bring the project to an immediate end. When the company did not respond to this request, Tal R's lawyer filed a claim for injunction with the Maritime and Commercial Court. At the time when the case was taken to court, the highest bid on the online auction was DKK 41,000.

 

Tal R argued in the case that the copyright includes making the work available to the public in a modified or changed form, including by reworking into another art or technique. Tal R argued that the actions of the Danish company constituted a violation of this right. Furthermore, it was alleged that the cutting of the work constituted a violation of the right to respect. Finally, it was alleged that the project was parasitic on Tal R's brand in violation of the provisions of the Marketing Act.

 

The Danish company claimed during the case that their project involved a destruction of “Paris Chic”, which does not constitute a violation of the right to respect. In addition, it was claimed that the project constituted a new and independent artwork, based on the destruction of Tal R's work. It was further contended that each cut made up only 0.04% of the total work and would therefore not be identifiable as part of the original work. In relation to the question of parasitic behavior, it was argued that the company had clearly stated on their website "Not in collaboration with Tal R" and that they did therefore not try to connect with Tal R.

 

The Danish Maritime and Commercial Court found that the Danish company in its project made the work Paris Chic accessible to the public in a changed form. The Maritime and Commercial Court pointed out, among other things, that the company had even stated on its website "What happens when you take an original work of art and transform it into something else?" Based on this, it was concluded that what the company had done was changing the artwork Paris Chic, both from a factual and a legal perspective. Since Tal R's copyright included the right to make the work available to the public in a changed or modified form, the project accordingly constituted a violation of Tal R's copyright.

 

Further, the Maritime and Commercial Court found that the proposed use of the Tal R artwork constituted a violation of Tal R's right to respect, as the painting would be altered and made available in a manner that could appear to harm Tal R's reputation. Also, it was mentioned, that this was not an insignificant use of Tal R’s work.

 

Finally, the Danish Maritime and Commercial Court found that the project actually did use Tal R's brand, as they were referring to his artist name Tal R.

 

Based on the above, an injunction was issued against the company’s cutting, or any other modification, of the Paris Chic artwork for the purpose of manufacturing watches in Denmark.

 

The decision from the Maritime and Commercial Tribunal is novel, fundamentally unambiguous and supports Tal R in all points. Speaking on the matter, Tal R stated that he was sad that others were trying to make money and get attention to make a product out of his artwork, and he felt it was disrespectful. With the decision against the Danish company, the Maritime and Commercial Court has clearly sided with him and indicated that it is not allowed to create new works from an existing work.

 

 

If you have questions or require futher information about the above, please contact Partner Pernille Nørkær (pno@mwblaw.dk) or Junior Associate Martin Søndergaard (mas@mwblaw.dk).

 

The above does not constitute legal counseling and Moalem Weitemeyer Bendtsen does not warrant the accuracy of the information. With the above text, Moalem Weitemeyer Bendtsen has not assumed responsibility of any kind as a consequence of a reader’s use of the above as a basis of decisions or considerations.