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06 February 2012
The Court of Appeal recently ruled that the 'Oliver' children's chair produced by Trumf AS infringed Stokke AS' copyright of the well-known Tripp Trapp chair. The court further held that Trumf's use of the slogan, "This great children's chair will grow with your child" infringed Stokke's trademarked slogan, "The chair that grows with your child".
Trumf, a division of Norway's largest trading enterprise Norgesgruppen, began selling and marketing its Oliver children's chair under the slogan, "This great children's chair will grow with your child". Stokke filed a legal action, claiming that the Oliver chair infringed its copyright in the Tripp Trapp chair, and that use of the slogan infringed its established trademark, THE CHAIR THAT WILL GROW WITH YOUR CHILD.
The first instance court judged in Trumf's favour. Stokke appealed the decision.
The first issue that the Court of Appeal had to decide was whether the Tripp Trapp chair fulfiled the legal requirements for copyright. In doing so, the court had to assess whether the Tripp Trapp chair was sufficiently different from existing chairs at the time of its creation in 1972. The Court of Appeal found that the chair was distinctive and innovative compared with other chairs in existence at the time, and concluded that it was obvious that the chair had originated as a result of the inventor's individual and independent creative efforts and was thus protected by copyright.
The next issue was whether the Oliver chair infringed the Tripp Trapp chair's copyright. The court decided, with reservations, that infringement had occurred. It concluded that the distinctive elements of the Tripp Trapp chair were reproduced to such a degree that the Oliver chair could be considered as a close imitation of the Tripp Trapp chair. Stokke consequently won its copyright infringement claim.
The Court of Appeal also concluded that the slogan, "The chair that grows with your child" had been established as a trademark on the basis of Stokke's use, and that Trumf's use of "This great children's chair will grow with your child" consequently infringed Stokke's trademark rights. The court emphasised the fact that both slogans were used for similar products (ie, children's chairs) and that the Oliver chair, paired with its slogan, could be mistaken for the Tripp Trapp chair. The use of similar slogans could therefore harm Stokke's commercial interests and also cause confusion in the market as to the origin of the goods.
Stokke was awarded Nkr450,000 in compensation from Trumf.
Trumf has appealed to the Supreme Court.
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