BVG does not want to accept the defeat in court about the so-called worm pattern. BVG appealed at the end of 2021. It appears from a response to an inquiry from AfD MP Gunnar Lindemann. First, “Morning Post” and “BZ” had reported. The inventor of the pattern has also appealed. It is unclear when the Hamburg Higher Regional Court will hear the case – at the earliest by the end of the year.
For 30 years, Berliners have been sitting on “worms” in buses and trains. The pattern was invented by Herbert Lindinger for the S-Bahn when it was in the hands of BVG in West Berlin. The pattern was intended to “make the ‘paintings’ with ink, which are so popular and difficult to remove, appear less conspicuous,” Lindinger wrote in 1990 in a textbook about the then new S-Bahn series.
Officially, the worms are called “Urban Jungle” in blue, red, black and white. The S-Bahn in the western part of the city went back to the railways shortly after the reunification. But BVG liked the pattern so much that it was also used in buses and subways.
It went well for decades. A few years ago, BVG then started printing the pattern on fan items such as bags or teacups. At the end of 2018, Lindinger approached BVG for the first time. BVG rejected any claim from the designer – who then filed a lawsuit because BVG had never paid license fees.
“Protected by copyright as a work of art”
The trial was largely successful. On November 9, the Hamburg City Court ruled that the pattern was “copyrighted as a work of art”. The BVG may no longer distribute the pattern, may have to pay compensation and destroy the fan products.
The court ruled that the vacant seats in buses and trains can remain standing for the time being. Local public transport “in the city of Berlin” would be “very significantly impaired” by a redevelopment. Therefore, the interests of BVG “and the Berlin public” would dominate here.
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Lindinger’s lawyer appealed this. Lindinger is represented by Professor Christian Donle, a specialist in intellectual property. Donle told Tagesspiegel on Wednesday that Lindinger insisted on removing the seats.
BVG is threatened with a problem with a million amount
If Lindinger comes through in the second round, then BVG has a million problem. Hundreds of vehicles drive the model. How many exactly, BVG does not want to disclose due to the legal dispute.
[Jeden Morgen ab 6 Uhr berichten Chefredakteur Lorenz Maroldt und sein Team im Tagesspiegel-Newsletter Checkpoint über Berlins Irrungen und Wirrungen.]
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This summer, BVG had seen the legal dispute unfold. Therefore, no padding is torn out, according to the transport company. The pattern disappears anyway, it has simply survived, as a spokeswoman for BVG said at the time.
New models get seats with the Night Line design
For several years, new models have been given seats with the “Night Line” design. This is black gray with a few shades of color. It is considered to be less aggressive but just as effective against stains.
But BVG initially also sold the fan articles online in its store. There were slippers (14.90 euros), mobile phone covers (8.90 euros), scarves (25.90 euros) and backpacks (29.90 euros). BVG stopped this sale shortly after the judgment.
As reported, the court in Hamburg had also obliged BVG to provide information on sales and profits obtained with the fan articles since the end of 2008. There is a claim for compensation and Lindinger’s claim for return of the products.