Hereby an update on the new developements,
Dear Handpan Community (Message from HCU Team)
Table of contents:
- PANArt seized all handpan instruments and shells in process at Ayasa Instruments
- PANArt summoned Ayasa Instruments to court in the Netherlands, aiming at a European ruling to use as a precedent against all makers
- What this could mean for the future of handpans
- Current status action of Bern, Switzerland
- Urgent call for a second round of donations to be able to continue the defense!
1. PANArt seized all handpan instruments and shells in process at Ayasa Instruments
On the 28th of April a Police officer (Assistant Prosecutor), a bailiff, and a locksmith arrived at Ayasa Instruments and seized all of their handpans, as well as the shells that were in the process of being made into instruments, on behalf of PANArt. Their wish is to have all handpans and shells destroyed by a third party at the expense of Ayasa Instruments, amongst other heavy demands stated below.
PANArt initiated what is called a prejudgment seizure. A judge of the Court of Central-Netherlands reviewed PANArt’s claim of copyright infringement and has granted PANArt the permission to seize handpan instruments along with any shells in process until further review. In the Netherlands, a party can demand a seizure without the accused party’s knowledge so that the accused party does not have the time to move/sell their goods before the seizure. The threshold for a judge to allow such a prejudgment seizure is relatively low. The law states that the judge looks “briefly” at the claim, and upon seeing a potential infringement, the seizure will be granted.
This is not a final ruling however, it is to ‘conserve’ the instruments and shells until there is a judgment in the proceedings on the merits. These proceedings on the merits have now been initiated (see below) and in those proceedings Ayasa Instruments will be able to defend itself against PANArt’s copyright and infringement claims.
2. PANArt summoned Ayasa Instruments to court in the Netherlands, aiming at a European ruling to use as a precedent against all makers
A deadline of 14 days for PANArt to summon Ayasa Instruments to court was set by the judge who granted the seizure. (The initial request of PANArt was for a deadline of 28 days). A bailiff came to hand over the court summons for the proceedings on the merits just in time of the deadline. Ayasa Instruments was hereby summoned to appear before the District Court of The Hague in the Netherlands. The court summons is a 32 page document, including all the claims and arguments made by PANArt.
In these proceedings on the merits, PANArt seeks a pan-European infringement injunction, as well as, among other things, destruction of product stock, declaration of sales information and compensation for alleged damage.
In summary, they are requesting that Ayasa Instruments pays for:
- the destruction of all their own products (completed instruments and any shells)
- all of PANArt’s court and lawyer fees
- any damages PANArt claims to have suffered
- 10,000 euros every day they continue to sell their instruments.
You can find all the claims in this translated pdf document.
HCU has been in close contact with the lawyers at Bird & Bird since the seizure. The Dutch team of Bird & Bird is fully up to speed with the case and are looking into all possibilities to make sure the best defense is given. The court date requested by PANArt is the 16th of June, although that date only indicates the beginning of these proceedings on the merits; Ayasa Instruments will then be given a term to respond to PANArt’s claims. As soon as we have more information about the case we will share that via newsletters.
3. What this could mean for the future of handpans
As with all cases so far, this case is a cause for great concern. If PANArt wins this case against Ayasa Instruments, it could become a precedent case for the European Union and beyond. With the new claims against Ayasa Instruments, together with all other ongoing cases and specifically with the intent of having all handpans destroyed and to stop all future creations, the entire instrument with all of its facets is under direct threat! A precedent case could end handpans in the European Union rather quickly. Every maker in the European Union could be legally pursued like Ayasa Instruments, with the same legal claims.
4. Current status action of Bern, Switzerland:
The action of Bern is most likely going to be a long process considering all the parties involved at this moment. Last week PANArt’s deadline to submit their statement of defense to the court of Bern expired. We have not received this brief yet which will contain PANArt’s counter-arguments. An oral hearing in these proceedings could then take place after the summer break. We will keep you posted on the further developments once we know more.
5. Urgent call for a second round of donations to be able to continue the defense!
Because of the many makers and resellers that have been targeted by PANArt, there was no other way than defending every single one of them either in their home country or in Switzerland. This resulted in exhausting HCU’s funding quicker than expected. At this point there is already an outstanding bill with the law firm for which funding still needs to be gathered and we can expect many more bills to come; expecting PANArt will not stop their actions. If there is no big second round of donations the result could be a loss by financial forfeit–if we cannot pay our legal team, we cannot defend the handpan instrument anymore.
The initial fundraising was fantastic and it gave us a chance to find our footing and get on the same legal playing field. With that funding we were also able to come to the defense of over a dozen makers and distributors across Europe. These legal defenses are still ongoing, but if PANArt is granted any decision by a judge in their favor, it could mean a domino effect for all the current legal cases. That is why each case against any maker or reseller anywhere in the world needs to be defended in the best way possible.
We invite and sincerely urge everyone to make a donation if you can, all amounts are welcome. This time we would like to specifically ask makers and resellers who didn’t donate yet but also who have donated already. Now is a time to ask yourselves, how much is it worth for you to keep following your passion to create or resell these instruments? The risk of losing your livelihood/passion is very real and the only way to prevent this is by acting together now. Together we are stronger and we can keep the passion and community alive. Donations can be direct or through the crowdfunding page:
GoFundMe Crowdfunding (<– Click here)
For direct donations you can transfer to:
“Stichting Handpan Community United” IBAN: NL62BUNQ2049174195