From Harald Kaiser
December 9th will not be a day like any other for Porsche. If the automaker's executives could, they'd be happy to remove the public attention associated with that date from the collective interest. But they will definitely give the super cool and pretend that you have everything under control - legally. But it could turn out differently. Because on that day at the beginning of December, a trial against Porsche begins before the Federal Court of Justice (BGH), the outcome of which may result in a compensation payment of many millions of euros.
The 911 came on the market in 1963
At eleven o'clock that day in Karlsruhe, case I ZR 222/20 will be heard before the 1st civil senate. Behind the file number is the complaint of a doctor from Vienna named Dr. Iris Steineck. Ms. Steineck is the daughter of Erwin Komenda, who was the designer who headed Porsche's body construction department from 1931 until his death in 1966 and who designed the shape of the first series-produced Porsche, the 356. The lady is of the opinion that her father is subsequently entitled to a share in the worldwide mega-success of the 356 successor, the Porsche 911, which came on the market in 1963 and which contains strong design accents from the 356.
Moreover, the lines of the iconic 911 sports car did not come from Porsche's son Ferdinand Alexander (“Butzi”), but rather from her father. In two previous instances (LG Stuttgart - judgment of July 26, 2018 - 17 O 1324/17, OLG Stuttgart - judgment of November 20, 2020 - 5 U 125/19), her view of things has already failed. But that does not have to mean for the renewed negotiation before the BGH. Because only procedures or revisions of fundamental importance are permitted there. Seen in this way, the final judgment could then be different from the decisions of the regional court and higher regional court.
Decision making is complex
In the legal, wooden press text of the Federal Court of Justice, Ms. Steineck's request reads as follows: “The defendant is Porsche AG. The plaintiff is the daughter of the former head of the defendant's body construction department who died in 1966. As part of his work, he was involved in the development of the Porsche 1950 vehicle model, which was produced from 356, and its successor model, the Porsche 1963, which has been built since 911. The extent of his involvement in shaping these models is a matter of dispute between the parties. As the heir of her father and from the assigned right, the plaintiff demands from the defendant in accordance with Section 32a (1) sentence 1 UrhG from January 1, 2014, an appropriate share in the proceeds from the sale of the 2011 series of the Porsche 991 produced from 911. She believes that in the vehicles of this series, essential design elements have been adopted from the original models of the Porsche 356 and the Porsche 911, which were developed with significant involvement from her father. The regional court dismissed the lawsuit. The Higher Regional Court rejected the plaintiff's appeal.
It assumed that the plaintiff had indeed proven that her father had the external design of the body of the Porsche 356 in its original form, which is a work of applied art within the meaning of Section 2 Paragraph 1 No. 4, Paragraph 2 UrhG acted, created and he was thus the author according to § 7 UrhG. In any case, the 991 series of the Porsche 911 was created in accordance with Section 24 (1) UrhG with free use of the external design of the body of the Porsche 356, which at most served as a suggestion for the new design.
Such use does not justify a claim to appropriate participation according to § 32a Paragraph 1 Clause 1 UrhG. With regard to the external design of the body of the Porsche 911 in its original form, the plaintiff had not succeeded in proving that her father was its co-author. With the appeal approved by the court of appeal, the plaintiff is pursuing her claim. "
Who invented the VW Beetle is certain
Whatever the outcome of the presumably protracted process, well-informed viewers of automobile history will remember this process of two similar disputes from the mid-50s. At that time it was also indirectly about Porsche. At that time, the car designer Béla Baréyni, who was employed by Daimler-Benz, sued two writers because they made him contemptuous in two books. It was about the honor of inventing the VW Beetle. It was largely unknown at the time that Béla barényi years before Ferdinand Porsche developed the principle of the “coming Volkswagen”. So called barényi his 1925 construction drawing of the floor pan. It already contained all the essential technical features that later characterized the VW Beetle: boxer engine in the rear, air cooling, the engine arrangement behind and that of the transmission in front of the rear axle.
When the two writers, Herbert A. Quint and Horst Mönnich, scornfully denied this authorship in their books in the early 50s and instead attributed it to Porsche, Bar suedényi both. In the course of the trial against Quint it turned out that this name came from Porsche employee Richard v. Frankenberg was used as a pseudonym. baréNyi won both cases, which went up to the BGH. The "Quint"-Proceedings were referred back by the BGH to the patent chamber of the Mannheim Regional Court, which in July 1955 finalized the lawsuit in favor of Barényis decided. And in October 1955 a settlement was reached in the appeal proceedings against Mönnich before the BGH. Mönnich declared that he would no longer spread his claims. So came the barényi to have designed the most important design features of the VW before Porsche. Since then, Baréyni, who among other things developed the idea of the crumple zone in the service of Daimler-Benz, has been the inventor of the Volkswagen.
The processes took place over seven instances
If Baréyni had taken these two legal successes as an opportunity and sued Porsche and / or VW for a profit-sharing scheme, after all, Volkswagen had paid the Zuffenhausen-based sports car manufacturer five marks for every Beetle produced for decades, and he would have come out in the millions. But the person who died in 1999 made a different decision. The reason for this can be found in the book “The Unknown Genius” - Béla Baréyni, the guardian angel for millions of drivers* read up. When the author asked why he did not take action against Porsche or VW in view of these clear judgments, he replied: “I was tired of years of legal disputes. The processes ran over seven instances. And I didn't have the money to continue either. Because VW or Porsche would certainly have gone through all instances. That would have cost me a lot of nerves. Furthermore, I built on the fact that the gentlemen in Zuffenhausen would get a guilty conscience and, in view of the highest court rulings, would at least pay me a decency fee. But that didn't happen. So I did not pursue the matter further, after all, I am primarily a technician and not a financial person. "
*“The unknown genius” - Béla Baréyni, the guardian angel for millions of drivers, is available as an e-book from Apple Books and Amazon.