Quantifying damages for infringement in Germany — the Tripp-Trapp chair case


Jens Künzel

Recent cases in Germany have illuminated the thorny issue of how to quantify damages in copyright cases. Jens Künzel explains.

Most parents in the industrialised world will probably know the Tripp-Trapp chair. It is a children’s chair made of wood with a quite simple but memorable design, advertised by the original manufacturer as the ‘chair which grows with your child’.

The success of the original chair has spurred many competitors (or companies that aspired to be competitors) to market and distribute chairs whose design was at least very similar to the original chair design. The Tripp-Trapp chair case decided by the Federal Supreme Court of Germany on May 14, 2009 concerns one of the many ‘copies’ of the original chair.

The defendant had not contested the evaluation of the appeal court in Hamburg that the original Tripp-Trapp chair enjoys copyright protection as a “work of applied art”. The subject matter of the case concerned the computation of quantified damages for copyright infringement. In that respect, the decision of the Federal Supreme Court will not only affect copyright cases, but all cases involving the infringement of intellectual property rights.

Tripp-Trapp chair, quantifying damages, IP infringement