Legal Lense on Culinary Business
October 24, 2011
Ewa-Marie Rundquis, Stockholm-based photographer, sued German-owned Vapiano SE and its U.S. subsidiaries, Vapiano International and Vapiano Franchise USA, alleging that her copyright-protected works were reproduced without her permission and used as decorations in franchised restaurants throughout the United States and around the world.
According to the Courthouse News Service, Rundquist’s attorney, Scott Christensen with Hughes Hubbard & Reed filed suit in November 2009 following unsuccessful efforts at settlement. Rundquist alleges that her works are protected under the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. A federal judge in Washington DC refused to grant Vapiano’s move to dismiss all of claims for lack of personal jurisdiction.
Judge Beryl Howell agreed to dismiss two counts against the German parent company from Rundquist’s amended complaint, agreeing that it does not have subject-matter jurisdiction regarding liability under the Copyright Act for infringement occurring in foreign Vapiano restaurants. However, as far as personal jurisdiction, Howell awarded Plaintiff 60 days to gather facts to help prove that the foreign company is doing business in the Washington area. Rundquist claims that Vapiano has 60 restaurants in at least 16 countries, including six restaurants in the United States. She says there are two Vapiano restaurants in the D.C. area.
Plaintiff seeks removal of her photographs from all of Defendant’s restaurants and compensation and punitive damages.
Source: Courthouse News Service and Blue MauMau.