9 August 2016Jurisdiction reportsMichiel Rijsdijk

Netherlands: Copyright and card games

This (in essence) means that (1) the work is not derived from another work; and (2) the work’s design was the result of human labour and therefore creative choices. In addition, it excludes anything that is necessary for a technical effect.

A copyright infringement exists when the work of another party gives the same overall expression as the original work, meaning the second party’s work cannot be seen as an independent work.

Recent case law

A June 8 verdict of the Rotterdam District Court once again proved how easily copyright protection is granted. The plaintiff and Esveco (defendant), a graphics company, were in disagreement over whether a certain card game and the allocation of the cards within the game can be protected by copyright law. Esveco had created a ‘new’ game that was nearly identical to the plaintiff’s earlier game (Korpa).

Both games had the same layout: a rectangular field of 14 cards pictured in exactly the same order, with the title in the middle. In the plaintiff’s game it said “Korpa! Simpel Super Snel Kaartspel” (“Korpa! Simple Super Fast Card Game”) and Esveco’s said “Korpa! Kort Bingo Med Joker” (“Korpa! Short Bingo Med Joker”) and “Kortbingo Cardbingo Kaartbingo” (“Short Bingo Card Bingo Card Bingo”).

The defendant claimed that the plaintiff’s game Korpa was derived from an (even) earlier work and that it is a variation of the classic bingo game where, instead of a numbered ball, a playing card is drawn. The defendant considered the choices that were made to create the game were trivial rather than creative, or made for technical reasons. Moreover, the plaintiff had not proved that it was the first party to create the game, according to the defendant. To this end, the defendant submitted as proof print screens of a similar game that it stated had existed earlier than the Korpa game.

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