Case C-169/15, Montis Design – EU copyright and Benelux design formalities, a game of musical chairs?

When a company owns the Benelux rights in the design of a chair but then it fails to maintain the registration of its Benelux rights under Benelux law, can a rival company still be stopped from making similar chairs because of the links between the old Benelux law and current EU law? More specifically, what is the relationship between Benelux rights and the EU’s ‘term of protection’ Directive 93/98/EEC?

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Case C-24/16, Nintendo – jurisdiction by design

Nintendo is suing companies in the German courts for the alleged infringement of its design rights. However, the German courts wonder if they have jurisdiction to decide the case and the scope of any measures they might impose. The first problem is that the German defendant is only a subsidiary and its parent company is domiciled in France. The second problem is that although the defendant’s website has images on it that correspond to Nintendo’s design rights, these have been put there so that consumers know immediately that the defendant’s goods can be used in Nintendo’s games consoles.

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Case C-610/15, Stichting Brein – seeking website blocks to stop peer to peer technology

People may use telecoms networks to pass information to each other. Some websites such as that run by The Pirate Bay allow people to download software that enables them to pass small pieces of information around a telecoms network. The question in this case is whether a Dutch court can order telecoms companies to block their customers’ access to websites like The Pirate Bay in order to stop presumed copyright infringement from taking place.

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Case A-2/15, The EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement – a mixed agreement?

In October 2014, the EU and Singapore concluded a free trade agreement. However, there is uncertainty surrounding how to classify the legal agreement. That is to say, is it an agreement which the EU has exclusive competence to sign and ratify? Or is it a ‘mixed agreement’ which would mean that the approval of every single parliament in every single Member State is also required before the agreement can be ratified?

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Case C-174/15, Vereniging Openbare Bibliotheken – ebooks via Dutch public libraries

Like public libraries the world over, Dutch libraries lend materials from their collections to the public. However, those materials may be protected by copyright. Consequently, Dutch law requires Dutch libraries to pay money to the copyright holders every single time a book is lent. The legal question in this case is whether that obligation extends to an ‘e-book’, and the answer depends on the word ‘lending’ in the EU’s ‘rental and lending rights’ Directive 2006/115/EC.

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Case C-490/14, Verlag Esterbauer – a map is not a database

Is a map a database? The EU’s Database Directive 96/9/EC requires a database to be ‘a collection of independent works … or other materials …’. It is a phrase which has already been interpreted by the CJEU in its earlier ‘sporting fixtures’ case law but now it is not clear whether the CJEU’s reasoning also brings a map within the scope of EU database law.

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Case C-484/14, McFadden – a mere conduit?

If a person offers non-password-protected access to the Internet, and an unknown user passes a piece of copyright-infringing music over that Internet connection, then can the person offering the Internet access be absolved of legal liability on the basis that he is but a ‘mere conduit’ under the EU’s ‘E-Commerce’ Directive 2000/31/EC?

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Case C-470/14, EGEDA – will a state-financed ‘private copy’ scheme deliver fair compensation?

According to Article 5(2)(b) of the EU’s InfoSoc Directive 2001/29/EC, copyright holders can be paid ‘fair compensation’ for the copies of protected works made by people for private use. In some Member States this type of scheme is financed by levies on electronic equipment. However, Spain has decided to pay right holders directly from the state budget. Spanish copyright ‘collecting societies’ do not like this, and claim that the scheme contravenes EU law.

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Case C-325/14, SBS Belgium – broadcasting via third parties

Some broadcasters no longer broadcast directly to the public. Instead, a broadcaster will supply their channels and programming output to ‘distributors’ such as the cable, telephone, and satellite TV companies. Subscribers to the services provided by these distributors can then watch the broadcaster’s output. This does however generate a question of copyright law. Namely, for the purposes of the EU’s InfoSoc Directive 2001/29/EC, who is making a ‘communication to the public’? Is it the broadcaster? Or is it the distributor? Or could it be both?

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