23 October 2003

Natasja Bergen

In a recently published decision (28 August 2003) the Amsterdam Court of First Instance decided, in summary proceedings, that a foreign website offering goods that are accessible to the Dutch public may, under certain circumstances, be considered to be selling on the Dutch market and therefore be bound by Dutch regulations.

Cassina, an Italian furniture manufacturer, has obtained through licence, the exclusive right to produce and sell certain models of classical design furniture in The Netherlands. Classico Mobile, also Italian based, sells reproductions of classical design furniture through the Internet. Some of the reproductions shown on Classico Mobile’s website were alleged to infringe the copyrights of Cassina in The Netherlands (these reproductions were not infringing in Italy).

Classico Mobile advertised twice in a Dutch newspaper. The advertisements showed certain models of furniture and referred to Classico Mobile’s website, email address and fax number. Cassina argued that Classico Mobile had infringed Cassina’s copyrights by offering the furniture on its website and by referring to this website in advertisements in the Dutch newspaper, and asked the Court to order Classico Mobile to make their website inaccessible for Dutch inhabitants.

The Court was of the opinion that Classico Mobile actually offered furniture that infringed the copyrights of Cassina on the Dutch market and therefore ordered Classico Mobile to make their website inaccessible for Dutch IP addresses. The Court came to this decision based on the fact that Classico Mobile had referred to its website in the advertisements and this website could be reached from The Netherlands. The fact that the website has the TLD .com and not .nl does not change this.

This decision implies that foreign operators of websites should carefully check that the content of their website is in accordance with Dutch copyright law if they want to make reference to their website in advertisements targeted to the Dutch public.

Important - The information in this article is provided subject to the disclaimer. The law may have changed since first publication and the reader is cautioned accordingly.