World renowned sculptor Ju Ming awarded TWD48 million damages in copyright lawsuit
E170726Y3 | Aug. 2017（E213）
The locally famous Syuan Kong Temple, situated in Tainan, Taiwan, had been displaying the internationally well-known sculptor, Ju Ming’s bronze sculptures of the Taichi series and the Nativist series and had also sold three pieces of these sculptures in a total amount of TWD57 million. However, Ju Ming learned of this matter and found in December 2013 that these sculptures on view at Syuan Kong Temple were all counterfeit and thus filed a copyright infringement lawsuit with the IP Court to seek damages against the said Temple. The IP Court examined this case and decided that the said Temple, the abbot at the said Temple, Huang and other defendants should jointly and severally pay to Ju Ming damages in an amount of TWD48 million and shall not continue displaying and selling these counterfeit sculptures and also that they should run a notice of the IP Court judgment in the front page of local newspapers for one day.
In late 2013, Ju Ming was informed that many bronze sculpture works of his were displayed at the said Temple, for which Ju Ming had relevant evidence gathered and confirmed that the bronze sculpture works displayed by the said Temple were all fake ones. Ju Ming, therefore, filed a lawsuit against the said Temple. Subsequently, Ju Ming’s attorney joined in the police on-site investigation and found that the forged Ju Ming’s signatures on five pieces of these fake sculptures had already been removed. Besides, the investigation revealed that the said Temple had sold three fake bronze sculptures, including two pieces titled “Single Whip” and “Preparation” during the period of February 2012 involving TWD57 million in total. Ju Ming commented on this matter that Syuan Kong Temple, as a well-known religious body should have performed its enlightening and cultivating obligations but, on the contrary, distributed counterfeit sculptures to gain huge profits, which will affect many collectors’ intent for collection.
The said Temple argued that they have been holding tens of thousand pieces of articles given by disciples as gifts and they do not have the ability nor obligation to authenticate them, and also that the artistic works donated by disciples were simply for display at the temple. According to the said Temple, their temple volunteer received these sculptures along with letter of authenticity, and therefore, the said Temple had no clue to know that these sculptures were counterfeit ones and that they do not hold the intent to distribute or sell them.
According to the IP Court’s holding, the buyer confirmed purchase of three counterfeit sculptures from the said Temple and it is an affirmed fact that the said Temple displayed fake sculptures. In addition, the said Temple failed to produce any document or material of any kind to prove that these sculptures were indeed all given by disciples as gifts nor did they make any administrative books. Moreover, it is unreasonable for the said Temple to remove the signatures on these sculptures when involved in a lawsuit if it is true that these sculptures are genuine pieces.
Thus, the judge held that it is difficult to prove and calculate the said Temple’s profits on the ground that no evidence is available to substantiate the buyer’s full payment for the three sculptures sold by the said Temple. In spite of being a famous religious organization, the Syuan Kong Temple unexpectedly sells counterfeit sculptures whose origin was unknown, for which the court determined that the said Temple should pay TWD15 million dollars in damages. Also according to the IP Court judgment, the Syuan Kong Temple should pay TWD28 million for displaying 13 pieces of fake bronze sculptures and also TWD5 million for moral right infringement by using forged signature. That is to say, Syuan Kong Temple should pay a total of TWD48 million in damages to Ju Ming. This case is appealable. (July 2017)