|Dear Handpan Community, |
First of all, sincere thanks to everyone for the immense support offered since the launch of Handpan Community United (HCU). It is pleasing to see that more than one thousand members have chosen to join and support HCU. This gives hope that a supporting resource can be created together to protect the handpan community from current and future legal actions.
Updates on the current status and the next steps:
Table of contents:
1. The current state of affairs
2. Ayasa Instruments has received a letter
4. Why HCU should support everyone, including resellers
5. The current copyright claim on Handpans
6. The goal to create an even playing field
7. HCU Discord Server – Open platform for discussion
1. The current state of affairs:
HCU started working together with Bird & Bird, a high profile international law firm. They are experts regarding Intellectual Property and will be handling all legal defenses on the behalf of HCU. This means that any HCU member who receives an official legal letter from PANArt’s lawyers can receive legal advice or representation from Bird & Bird.
2. Ayasa Instruments has received a letter from PANArt:
In the first instance Ralf van den Bor (owner and founder of Ayasa Instruments) requested a personal meeting with PANArt in Bern to discuss the recent developments in the court cases surrounding the handpan community. However in reply Ayasa Instruments received a letter from PANArt’s law-firm: Meyerlustenberger Lachenal (mll). They are stating that Ayasa Instruments is infringing copyright of the Hang by the creation and sale of their instruments, and that with their handpan shells they are willfully inciting the production of unauthorised copies. In this letter PANArt’s lawfrim invited Ralf to their office in Zurich for settlement talks and a discussion how their instruments might differ from the Hang design. During the meeting, that will take place the 15th of October, Ralf will be accompanied by two lawyers from Bird & Bird.
In order to continue to effectively defend the handpan community from legal action, HCU is in need of ongoing funding to cover the cost of our legal representation. To generate funding, an HCU GoFundMe crowdfund campaign will be launched next Monday the 12th of October. This platform perfectly suits non-profit organisations and has minimal associated fees; It’s straight to the point and has good payment options.
You can support the campaign in various ways:
1. Monetary donation
2. Share the campaign on your social media
3. Start your own fundraiser:
– Makers and Resellers: Start an instrument lottery or have a sale of instrument(s) where the proceedings or a percentage goes to the HCU GoFundMe campaign
– Players/Artists: Offering online masterclasses or concerts
– Or basically any other way you can think of!
If you are considering making your own fundraiser, please share it on the newly created Discord server (see point 7. below)
All funds raised throughout the campaign will be placed in a trust-fund account which can legally only be used in respect to HCU’s mission statement: “To safeguard and protect the growing international handpan community, through the commitment to preserve the playing, fabrication, availability and the further development of the handpan musical instrument”. In the current situation this means that funds will be used to finance all respective legal costs.
4. Why HCU should support everyone, including resellers:
Something that has been unclear to some is that HCU is supporting resellers. This has been met with some criticism at times and we would like to explain again why we came to this decision.
The main strategy of PANArt in their recent court procedures against resellers was to achieve a ruling on the copyright question. The decision to target World of Handpans was most likely a strategic one. The immense amount of preparations made it clear that PANArt’s main objective was to get a precedent ruling which, if won, would give them a legal base for future injunctions. It doesn’t matter against whom this ruling was originally achieved, so they most likely looked for an easy target, a young business in a neighboring country.
These results of these legal proceedings could affect all handpan resellers, makers and artists. This is already quite clear by all the recent court ruling references against Ayasa Instruments. It will not stop here. HCU would like to make this as clear as possible: our goal is not to endorse or defend a single entity. The HCU was not formed around the World of Handpans shop nor any other single entity. Our goal is to meet PANArt in court on equal footing to have a fair chance to defend members of the handpan community against their copyright claim. The first court rulings in Germany have already set a legal base for PANArt.
5. The current copyright claim on Handpans:
So what exactly does PANArt’s current copyright claim mean? To explain that, we have to take a brief discourse into copyright law. Musical instruments are normally not eligible for copyright, but works of creative art are eligible. PANArt’s claim states that all Handpans, that use a similar shape as the Hang, are illegal copies.
The specific aspects that PANArt’s copyright claim is based upon are:
– The lens shape
– Shape and layout of the tone fields
– The central dome
– The position of the bottom hole
– The golden ring of the Integral Hang
PANArt claims that these parameters are not necessary for Handpans and if their claim stands, handpan makers may not be allowed to build instruments with these aspects any more and may even have to pay damages for the past 3 years (from the point of the ruling) to PANArt.
6. The goal to create an even playing field:
PANArt has spent a lot of time and resources to fight for their claim. There are several high profile law firms involved for their side and we would like to level the playing field. Maybe there is a way to come to an agreement without fighting in court and we would be happy if a compromise can be found that leaves both sides happy. But if the matter goes to court, it should be done on a level playing field.
7. HCU Discord Server – Open platform for discussion
Everyone who would like to get more involved in HCU is invited to join the newly created Discord server. Discord is an easy to use discussion platform. Everyone can share their ideas and their own fundraisers on the platform, which we encourage everyone to do so that not every fundraiser gets launched on the same day, and it’s possible to plan together accordingly. Any discussions regarding the situation and developments could take place here as well. You can join the discord here: https://discord.gg/tBDPqVf Hope to see you there!
Best wishes to all of you, Alessio, Yhonatan, Zachary, Kyle, Colin, Ralf, Duncan, Ezahn, Flavio, Victor and David