Volkswagen wins copyright case over Beetle design

A German court has denied a copyright claim by a descendant of one of the designers of the original Volkswagen Beetle.

The KdF Wagen was first built under Germany's Nazi regime.

The KdF Wagen was first built under Germany's Nazi regime. (Getty Images)

The daughter of Erwin Komenda was seeking $5.7 million in compensation, arguing that the automaker’s latest version of the Beetle, which ends production this year, still uses design features he’d first sketched in the 1930s while working under Ferdinand Porsche on the original KdF Wagen. In particular, its streamlined body and rear engine layout.

However, while evidence for the claim for rights to a work of applied art came in the form of two drawings from 1934, the Braunschweig Regional Court determined that similar designs had existed earlier and that it couldn’t be determined that Komenda was involved with them.

The plaintiff had based the amount of the compensation request only to Beetles manufactured since 2014 due to a statute of limitations, according to Automotive News.

Komenda continued working with Porsche at his namesake brand and was involved in the design of several of its iconic models, including the 550 Spyder and 911. He died in 1966 at age 62.

Komenda’s granddaughter has accused Porsche of diminishing his contributions to the creation of the brand’s “DNA.”

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