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In April  2016 Danish discount grocery retailer Netto launched three products, which appeared as 1:1 copies of Anne Black products. Anne Black reacted to these copies, by making a lawsuit against the discount retailer. In a 3 year long David against Goliat contest, Anne Black managed to finally win the lawsuit, in June 2019 where she recieved a verdict, which is a new direction in the practice of the law, on copyright in Denmark.

The Danish maritime court found that Netto´s marketing of Anne Black’s protected design had damaged not only the affected designs but also the brand and company Anne Black. 

The discount retailer decided afterwards to appeal the verdict and the appeal is now running.

Due to the size of the compensation, the verdict was a game changer in the protection of copyright in Denmark. Anne Black has subsequently been named creative women of the year, for her contribution on copyright issues in Denmark.

Repetitive copying

The discount retailer copied Anne Black for the first time in 2004, where the case were closed in an out of court setlement. While the 2016 copy case documented the damaging effects of widespread marketing of copy products, the lawsuit also documented the straightforward copy practice carried out by the discount retailer and their sub supplier. The evidence in the court revealed, that the discount retailer and their sub supplier received several warnings about the risk of breach of law, before launching the actual copy products.

In December 2019, after denying the issue for close to 3 years, the discount retailer decided to offer Anne Black, a 1 million Danish kroner compensation, if she would step away from the lawsuit. Anne Black rejected this offer, and instead pursued the case to the court  with the aim to improve the conditions under which danish designers operate and are protected. The verdict Anne Black recieved in June 2019 was a landmark ruling by the maritime court, which will benefit the design community in the coming years.

How we produce and consume

Anne Black entered this lawsuit with the aim to resist a widespread practice of copying, in order to protect her own design and the design of her colleagues. However she also consider the marketing of cheap copy products as unethical, in a world where we need to limit our consumption for environmental reasons.