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“Knoll's Tulip Chair”

Decision of the Court of Cassation (Cour de Cassation) of France 7 October 2020 – Case No. D 18-19.441; ECLI:FR:CCASS:2020:C100534

  1. 1.

    Pursuant to Art. 2(7) of the Berne Convention, works protected in the country of origin solely as designs and models shall be entitled in another country of the Union only to such special protection as is granted in that country to designs and models; however, if no such special protection is granted in that country, such works shall be protected as artistic works.

  2. 2.

    As in the USA, copyright protection is excluded for utilitarian objects unless they contain separable artistic elements that could in themselves be considered as pictorial, graphic or sculptural works (in which case the protection extends only to those elements), copyright protection cannot be sought in France for such works where no artistic element can be separated from the functional form (here a tulip-shaped chair).

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Translated from the French by David Wright.

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Knoll international and Knoll Inc. v. Mobilier et techniques d’organisation productive Berne Convention, Art. 2(7). “Knoll's Tulip Chair”. IIC 52, 949–951 (2021).

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  • Works of applied art
  • Copyright protection
  • Design of a chair
  • Berne Convention
  • Infringement
  • Separability