The copyright protection of an original work is very important in Switzerland. The successful economic development of Switzerland, a country poor in natural resources, is based on the right to protection of inventions, designs and individual works. The creative spirit is alive above all in workshop and small and medium-sized enterprises.
In autumn 2016, a settlement was reached before the Commercial Court of Aarau (Switzerland) between the company EchoSoundSculpture GmbH and PANArt Hangbau AG.
The hand pan builders of the Aargau-based company built and sold handpans (replicas of the original Hang Sound Sculpture) that came too close in their shape to the Hang and Gubal Sound Sculpture of PANArt.
Since the company under the management of Ezahn Bueraheng had copied the instruments of PANArt a little too boldly, PANArt drew the company's attention to the copyright situation in Switzerland. Since, despite our intervention, the desire to copy was not reduced, PANArt filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement.
There was a pre-trial settlement between the two parties: The handpans of EchoSoundSCulpture GmbH must differ markedly from the instruments of PANArt, so that confusion is no longer possible. The domes in the tone fields must take on a different form, as must the central tone field, the so-called "Ding". The resonance hole may retain the mass of the original, but must lie outside the centre of the so-called Gu side. Thirdly, EchoSoundSculpture GmbH should state on its website that it has been inspired by the creations of PANArt.
The handpans produced by EchoSoundSculpture since then can now be clearly distinguished from works by PANArt.
Effects of the comparison on other handpan manufacturers
The settlement has induced another handpan maker from Switzerland (Soma Sound Sculptures) to also change his design in such a way that it differs clearly from PANArt`s shapes.
It should be mentioned here that handpans imported from abroad are also subject to copyright.
Rights outside Switzerland
The copyright situation outside Switzerland is rather weak. In the EU, on the other hand, there is good design protection. Bad Experience with legal disputes outside Europe (Pantheon Steel USA, Harmonicart, Colombia) has prompted PANArt to be careful with its resources and to look forward: Work in Progress.
PANArt has been building instruments made of Pang composite here in Bern for years. A lot of energy, devotion and financial expenditure have been spent into their development. The PANArt recommends every small business, such as handpan makers, to provide competent advice on legal matters. It can be frustrating when original creations appear in banal form on the mass market the very next day. The PANArt tuners are happy that a respectful coexistence of instrument makers has become possible, at least in the closer neighbourhood.
The PANArt Team