The web-based trading company DR International Ltd. (Designers Revolt) is a UK-based company that sells copies of designer furniture and lamps. The company was founded by Mr. Lennart Nyberg, an entrepreneur and former owner of the company Ink Club.
The business concept of DR International Limited was that all sales would be made from the UK, where copyright protection for these kinds of goods is only upheld for 25 years, with delivery to countries where the products are still under national copyright protection. In spite of the fact that the prosecuted persons maintained that the business was perfectly legal, the prosecutor managed to persuade the Patent- and Market Court at Stockholm’s District Court that the business had in effect been based in Sweden and thus that Swedish Copyright law should apply.
Various factors led the court to this decision, including the fact that Designers Revolt aimed its marketing efforts at Swedish consumers by way of Swedish newspapers. Furthermore, catalogues were sent to all customers who had previously bought from Designers Revolt.
The company had two employees in Sweden and customers were able to pay through Swedish channels, for instance through Klarna. The company’s turnover showed that the major part of the sales (as much as 80 percent) were to Swedish customers. Designers Revolt also used a Swedish bank and a Swedish transport company which managed deliveries and stock-keeping in Sweden. The prosecutor could also show that sales into other countries, for instance Norway and Finland, were managed from Sweden.
Two of the perpetrators were sentenced to 1.5 years in jail for violation of the Copyright Act as well as for trademark infringement in accordance with the Trademark Act, due to having used the trademarks in commercials and in connection with offering the copies for sale. A third person from the company, who had managed the company’s finances, was fined and sentenced to probation, also for violation of the Copyright Act.
The Court further held that the perpetrators should pay damages to the plaintiff companies amounting to the sum of around SEK 27 million, with a further SEK 22 million to be paid to the Swedish state.
According to the Court, the harsh sentences were handed out in view of the fact that the business, which had been a large-scale operation, run over considerable time and had caused the plaintiffs considerable harm. The case is without parallel within intellectual property, but comparisons can be made with the Pirate Bay-case where the persons responsible were sentenced to jail for 10 months.
The decision will most likely be appealed, meaning that the last word has yet to be said.