August 13, 2019
Volkswagen Group has successfully defended a €5 million copyright claim brought in a German court by the daughter of Erwin Komenda, a former car designer who was Volkswagen’s Head of Design in the 1930s. Komenda’s daughter claimed that her father was the true designer of the Beetle, and that newer models of the Beetle, a model that has sold more than 22 million cars worldwide, continued to incorporate characteristics from her father’s design.
Komenda’s daughter relied on her father’s drawings of the original Beetle design as evidence. The court held that Komenda’s drawings were not significantly unique to support the argument that he was the sole designer of the Beetle. The court also found that modern Beetle models are “significantly different in design from the original Beetle” and, thus, were deemed unaffected by any copyright claim.
The court concluded that the original Beetle was largely based on the design of the KdF-Wagen, which was produced in 1938 and designed by Ferdinand Porsche. Unrelated to the copyright claim, Volkswagen has stated that it will end production of the Beetle this year, as the company moves towards being a “full-line, family-focused automaker”.
Authors: Sarah Stothart and Andrew Patel