Start of the story
The USA trade war with China is one of the most discussed issues today in the press. I have my own story to tell about my experience in protecting my intellectual property and the integrity of my original artworks. Here we go... A practical study of copyright infringement of a Canadian glass artist
A few months ago I was contacted by a person located in Asia about enormously large stained and leaded glass skylight being built for Huawei H
Indeed, I sent a letter to an architectural and interior design company Nikken, located in Japan, that was working on the project. I expressed my concerns about the quality of the stained glass ceiling design, pointing out that it is a substantial copy of my work. After we exchanged a few letters, they conducted an internal investigation. Nikken accepted the fact that their employee looked at my designs while working on the project. So they appointed a Toronto based lawyer to handle the case.
The Glass Dome
While studying the images I was sent, I could see that the project was on the early stage of fabrication - glass samples, sample skylight pieces in scale 1 to 1, construction site meetings. That stained glass oval dome could be one of the most significant stained glass projects of 21 century. If properly designed this dome could become one of the most impressive glass ceilings in the world
My body of work
I recognized a few projects that "inspired" Nikken's employee to develop his sketch
Stained glass dome Hoggs Hollow, Toronto, 2009
Stained glass skylight Barbini, Toronto, 2008
Oval stained glass dome Vesta, 2009, Toronto
Oval leaded glass dome Tri - City, Waterloo, 2016
Stained glass skylight Gina, Toronto 2011
Taking into account that I recently redesigned my website and removed a few old projects that "inspired" Nikkens designer as well. Those projects are no longer available for viewing
Later, I was contacted by Nikken's lawyer Tony Prenol of Blakes. I explained my concerns. Among many
My proposition was refused by Nikken.
At a certain point, I realized that to fight two large Asian corporations I need an IP lawyer to present me in this dispute discussion. It was quite challenging to find a lawyer that would not have the conflict of interests with such giant corporations as Huawei and Nikken. Additionally, the international matter of this case made it more complicated as copyright laws in different countries vary significantly.
Copycat Architecture in China
While doing my own research on the subject I found that Huawei Headquarters is widely criticized for a copycat architecture. All new Huawei campus buildings were designed and built after famous European Cities. The Wall Street Journal covered this in a story a year ago.
More surprisingly for me was to discover that there is a trend in China to copy European architecture that they admire.
As can be seen, a rendering of Huawei headquarters by Nikken and image of the National Library of France look alike... Don't you think? The original library building was designed by Henri Labrouste and constructed in 1860 - 1868. The difference is ... skylight ceiling design. That's right, in 1868 the leaded glass ceilings of such enormous sizes were not installed because the technology of leaded glass art was lagging behind. It is today's trend and today's technology that allow us to create beautiful glass ceilings in a large-scale.
In particular, I made a desition to fight and protect the integrity of my design with a help of a lawyer specializing in Copyright and Intellectual Property Laws exactly when I compared these 2 images. That was my boiling point. The scale of copyright infringement was enormous and involved historical properties of the global value, the largest privately
Yuri Chumak of Chumack and Company impressed me with his deep knowledge and understanding of the delicate issues of intellectual property protection. Based on Canadian Copyright Laws the Nikken's design is a substantial copy of my work, and my copyright was infringed.
After some discussion with Nikken's Lawyer, we finally got a drawing of the new proposed design of the oval leaded glass skylight for the approval. I noticed that the new proposed design still contained a couple of minor elements from my work, but in general, it did not look similar to my work anymore, which I confirmed
Substantial Copy Law and Legal Definition
Generally, making a substantial copy means copying a considerable or significant part of something. Substantial copying simply refers to more than just copying. The term substantial copy is often used in the context of Intellectual property. Substantial copy is a copy of a full, important, significant, or considerable amount of any work.
For instance, the Copyright Statute prevents other people from making a substantial copy of an individual's protected work, whether or not they are selling their art, entering it in competitions or perfecting their techniques.
The New Design
Do you think the new glass ceiling design is an independent original project? Comment! I know the answer, but I want to hear your opinion first.
As a result, I had financial expenses that I did not intend to have. I spent a lot of time doing research, analyzing drawings and different information. I did put an effort to protect my intellectual property and integrity of my original design. Above all, I experienced a lot of negative emotions while I was working on this case.
Consequently, I stopped working on all design projects developments for all my current clients that I was under the contract with. The reason was that stressed and depressed I could not provide the quality design services to my clients as I usually do. Sadly, four months of my professional life were taken away. The case has not been fully resolved.
The story was covered today by The Globe and Mail's Architecture critic ALEX BOZIKOVIC (for subscribers only)
Mississauga artist Victoria Balva’s battle with Huawei casts yet more unflattering light on the controversial Chinese firm
by Daniel Cooper
I would like to thank all people that help me with the advice on how to deal right: lawyers, paralegals, journalists, clients, architects, employees, friends, and my family members. Without the support of so many people I would not make it through. Thank you!
- The Wall Street Journal
- The Guardian
- A Medium Corporation
- South China Morning Post
Architecturehere and there
Huawei plagiarized a music video and turned it into a tablet ad