Twas the month before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
Save for a company from South Tirol,
In hopes that unwary Christmas shoppers would buy their illegal unlicensed copies of Bauhaus classics
In a lesser known version of his 1822 classic “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, Clement Clarke Moore eerily predicted events some 180 years later whereby, as part of a Christmas sales promotion, a “known” producer of unlicensed copies of Bauhaus classics advertised their cheap Chinese imports using phrases such as “Bauhaus furniture”, “Bauhaus classics” or “Bauhaus chairs”; all coupled with photos of the featured designers.
In February 2009 the Landgericht in Hamburg decided this was illegal as it deliberately led customers to believe that they were buying original, licensed products – when in fact they were buying cheap Chinese tat. In December 2009 the appeal judges upheld this decision.
And so, in Germany at least, one can only advertise and sell as “Bauhaus” official licensed originals of the works by designers such as Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Eileen Gray or Marcel Breuer.
We know from the conversations we have and correspondence we receive that the subject of licensed versus unlicensed products is a controversial one.
We also however know from experience that cheap, unlicensed products surreptitiously marketed under the designers name but which bear no relationship to the original designer, producer or indeed the production process, materials or machinery, are not only always poorly made -and so while they may be cheaper than an officially licensed product they represent much less value for money – but are in many cases also dangerous.
There is a reason the original designer objects cost more than the copies… and it isn’t pure greed.
As we say such court decisions are only made in Germany and so while consumers here have a degree of protection from those hoping to make a quick buck on the back of someone elses work, consumers in other countries are not. A situation hardly helped when large retailers such as amazon happily work with companies who market and sell products which, as with the Bauhuas designs featured in the Hamburg case, are deliberately marketed in such a fashion that the consumer believes they are getting something original when in fact they are getting something very cheap, very Chinese and potentially very dangerous.
And so take care when shopping this Christmas, especially with “too good to be true” online prices for designer furniture from Charles and Ray Eames, Arne Jacobsen or any of the Bauhaus protagonists; and before purchasing always check with the retailer if the products are original licensed versions – and if in doubt check with the licensed producer of the originals they can always advise if a product is genuine or not.
The Bauhaus lawyer sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, buy safely and to all a good-night!”