Skip to content
CityLab
Transportation

Berlin’s Beloved Transit Seat Design Escapes Legal Bind

A copyright dispute over merchandising tied up the German capital’s iconic “wriggling worm” bus and subway seat covers. But now the worms have been freed. 

Seats on a Berlin bus using the old “Urban Jungle”  design

Seats on a Berlin bus using the old “Urban Jungle”  design

Photographer: BVG/Oliver Lang

Do you prefer wriggling worms or a psychedelic orgy? This is an actual question some people in Berlin have been asking themselves recently — not as the result of a bad acid trip, but following a legal spat over designs for seat covers on the city’s public transport system.

Last December a court ruled that the BVG, the city’s main public transit company, was violating the copyright of designer Herbert Lindinger by using his longstanding squiggly seat cover design on merchandise, having printed it on anything from tea towels to sneakers, even though the original commission was for seat covers only.