German Supreme Court decides on copyright in cruise line logo

Michael Wukoschitz's picture

AIDA cruise ships are characterized by a distinctive logo consisting of a blue wave, an eye and a pair of red lips on the bow.The artist who created the logo has confered the exclusive right of use to the cruise company. The defendant who offers shore leave trips in Egypt published a photo on his website which showed an AIDA cruise ship with its typical logo. AIDA filed a cease and desist claim based on its exclusive right of use of the logo as well as a claim for damages. The claim was dismissed in all court instances.

The German  Supreme Court (BGH) held that the logo was presented on the ship in a public area and the publication of a photo of the ship therefore covered by the so called "Freedom of Panorama" which permits publication of photos of buildings,  sculptures and other pieces of art which are located in a public place, without infringing any copyright that may otherwise subsist in such works. The Supreme Court clarified that these precondtions were met because the logo was perceivable from public areas in the open air and the "Freedom of Panorama" was not limited to stationary pieces of art but also applied to vehicles or other means of transport used in public areas. The defendant therefore was allowed to take a picture of the cruise ship and publish same on his website.

Source: BGH press release 056/2017 of April 27, 2017. Case number: I ZR 247/15

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