A court has issued a preliminary injunction against a Prague gas station for plagiarism involving copying the architectural design of a famous gas station in Slovakia.
Czech-based architectural firm Atelier SAD built a gas station in Galanta, Slovakia, eight years ago for the company GAS, which wanted to create a distinctive brand image. UK newspaper The Telegraph, for example, in 2016 named it as one of the 10 most beautiful gas station in the world.
Recently a station called Stopka Libeň in Prague 8 was completed, using many of the same design features. Atelier SAD claims this is a violation copyrighted work. Both station have a concrete shelter over the pumps. The shelters have thin pillars ending in a cone supporting interconnected flat round disks that have been compared to mushrooms or flying saucers. A thin line of colored lights runs around the rim of the disks. The top halves of the pillars are lit from underneath.
The Prague station, owned by the firm Tived, has been forced to cover the conical tops of the pillar necks, which had embossed pump numbers. The Slovak station has lit LED numbers in the same positions and same typeface. The operators of Stopka Libeň have also had to post signs on each saying that the station is not the work of the architects Adam Jirkal and Jaroslav Koza, who made the Slovak station.
“We found out by accident when our closest friends started sending us photos of the [Prague] gas station and thought it was ours. [Someone] who was involved in our gas stations in Slovakia asked us when this one would be open in the Czech Republic. Well, we explained that we had nothing to do with it,” architect Jaroslav Koza, one of the designers of the Slovak station, told the Czech edition of business magazine Forbes.
The studio hired law firm Havel & Partners to examine the issue. The law firm got expert opinions from academics and professionals which backed the ideas that one design is a copy of the other.
The law firm them asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction. The two parties have now met, and are seeking a solution. Atelier SAD has 30 days from when to injunction was issued to file a formal suit, in no agreement is reached.
An optimal solution would be for the Libeň station to be modified so it no longer resembles the Slovak one. Complete demolition is unlikely.
Slovak company GAS says that the design is intended to be similar to a company logo, and they plan to use it across Slovakia for their network. They also don’t discount that they will expand into the Czech Republic. Other stations using a similar design could cause brand confusion.