And the verdict has been issued.
The Volkswagen Beetle’s origins date back to the 1930s when the initial designs were created. At the time, the air-cooled, butt-engined coupe was state-of-the-art. It was aerodynamic and its engineering and design simplicity helped make it affordable for the masses. The Beetle has since become an automotive legend but the third generation model will soon be discontinued. There are no plans for a successor. However, there was still apparently some controversy regarding the first generation Beetle’s design.
Automotive News reports that the daughter of Erwin Komenda, a designer who helped style the original Beetle, has lost her copyright lawsuit again the German automotive giant. She claimed (her name was officially withheld) the newer Beetles still incorporated elements of her father’s original design.
She sought $5.7 million in compensation, which is really just a drop in the bucket in terms of how much money VW has made from the Beetle over the past 70 years. The report states she limited her claim to Beetles built since 2014 for statute of limitations reasons. All told, VW has built over 22 million Beetles since mass production got underway following the end of WWII.
But why, exactly, did Komenda’s daughter lose the case? A Brunswick, Germany court properly examined Komenda’s drawings of the original Beetle and ultimately concluded it resembled other vehicles from that period. The court was correct, as any automotive historian can tell you. One example is the Tatra 97, a Czech car built from 1936 until 1939.
Furthermore, the court ruled Komenda’s daughter did not prove her father even took part in the styling process of the Volkswagen KdF, the vehicle which the original Beetle was based on. The KdF, in fact, was first built in 1938 and was designed by none other than Ferdinand Porsche. Komenda, who hailed from Austria, worked with Porsche in the 1930s and following the war’s end, the Porsche car company. He passed away in 1966.
The court stated it has denied any copyright claim on any drawings of the original Beetle done by Komenda, and that’s that. It’s nearly impossible to prove something like this that occurred seven decades ago.