SEOUL, Feb. 21 (Korea Bizwire) – A Seoul appeals court on Tuesday ruled in favor of South Korean fashion brand PLAYNOMORE in a copyright lawsuit filed by Hermès, upsetting a previous ruling in favor of the French luxury brand.
The dispute goes back to November 2015 when Hermès filed a lawsuit against the Korean company, claiming that PLAYNOMORE’s Shy Family and Shy Girl bags – also known as cartoon-eye bags – infringed on the design of its Birkin and Kelly bags.
The first court sympathized with Hermès’ allegations, and ordered PLAYNOMORE to pay 100 million won ($87,336) to Hermès in May of last year.
The decision was overturned by the appeals court, which said that partial similarity in design was not enough to substantiate the claim that PLAYNOMORE’s bags were in violation of the laws of fair trade and freedom of competition. The court also decided that PLAYMORE’s unique “eyes” design was a key element of the bags’ identity, and the subsequent popularity of the products among consumers.
“Taking into consideration the creativity, uniqueness, the details of production, and the cultural values of the bags altogether, PLAYNOMORE’s products have achieved their own version of originality and aesthetics by incorporating various rare images together,” the appeals court was quoted as saying.
Lawyer Han Dong-soo, who represented the Korean company, said that the latest decision is significant in that a legal body recognized the value of PLAYNOMORE’s unique designs.
Kim Chae-yeon, designer and founder of PLAYNOMORE, added, “I hope the decision serves as a precedent that protects smaller local businesses from indiscriminate lawsuits by major companies.”
By Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)