No infringement of exclusive rights roadmap

Kris Kras Publishing may continue the distribution of the Smart D®iving Road Map on the island. That is what the Common Court of Justice decided Tuesday in appeal. The court deemed the road map not to be a ‘slavish imitation’ of the product that competitor Caribbean Cartographics distributes.

Previously, the Court of First Instance came to the same conclusion, but Caribbean Cartographics appealed that decision. The company demanded that the competing road map would be recalled from the car rental agencies and that no new maps would be distributed.

Former manager of Caribbean Cartographics, Christiaan Kuipers, now the owner of Kris Kras Publishing, and former intern Rianne Laan had abused Carribbean Cartographics’ company intelligence to produce their own road map and it had resulted in just a ‘slavish imitation’ of their road map, according to Caribbean Cartographics.

The company submitted nine grounds for appeal. These were all rejected by the court. Furthermore, the court ordered the claimant to pay the costs of the proceedings, which amounted to 12,807.13 guilders.

According to Caribbean Cartographics, Kuipers influenced the atmosphere at the company negatively, while he was working there. Moreover, the former manager presented the road map of Caribbean Cartographics publicly as inferior and he spread around defaming rumors about his former employer in the media. The court, however, found that these circumstances were not relevant to the dispute.

Also, the retail package and the soliciting of advertisers which were also customers of Caribbean Cartographics were allowed, as said by the court. After all, it was clear to advertisers that it concerned a different road map. Kuipers stated that he did not take the contact information of the companies when he left his former employer, but he obtained it from public sources. The court agreed with him, because such information is easy to get hold of on a small island.

Besides that, the court allowed Kuipers and former intern Laan to use the knowledge and experience they had obtained while producing road maps at Caribbean Cartographics. The use of the same cartographer was also not a problem.

Moreover, the court discarded the complaints that the Kris Kras road map was a ‘slavish imitation’ of the Caribbean Cartographics road map. The court found sufficient differences between the two maps and stated that there can be no copyright resting on topographical information, such as street names, indications of hotels and beaches and the size of the map.

Finally, Caribbean Cartographics had stated that they had registered the name ‘Smart Drive Road Map’ at the Chamber of Commerce (CoC) already on May 3, 2007, while Kuipers registered his Smart D®iving Road Map exactly a week later. The court admitted that this could lead to confusion. However, three former employees of Caribbean Cartographics testified that there had never been any plans to distribute the Smart Driving Road Map nor that it had ever been distributed. Caribbean Cartographics only registered the name at the CoC when it heard of the intention of Kuipers to start distribution of a map with nearly the same name.

(Source: National Newspaper “Antilliaans Dagblad”)

29 May, 2009

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