Friday, 31 October 2014

Who is the rightful owner?

Companies who commission a supplier to create a product or design now need to take steps to protect their interests.

Graham Davies, senior partner at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, said a seismic shift in the rules on intellectual property had completely changed the face of business.

“Previously, when a design was commissioned, the legal owner was the person who asked for it to be created, not the designer. But now the Intellectual Property Act 2014 has totally reversed the position, unless you stake your claim in the initial contract with the supplier.

“So whether you’re looking for a design for an industrial product, packaging, a logo, a new typeface in a brochure, graphic symbol or a part that will be used in a more complicated product, you need to know how the new rules apply.”

Graham said the Act came into force at the start of October, but would not be fully in place until the end of 2015.

“From now on, if your company commissions a design, you need to make sure that the contract declares you are its legal owner. You may well find that design companies will charge extra for the intellectual property rights, but that really will be a small price to pay compared to losing control of the design altogether.”

Graham said the idea behind the rule change is that for some time the Government was concerned that smaller companies were at a disadvantage when it comes to protecting their IP rights.

“All the law covering intellectual property was actually quite old, and so the new Act has been introduced to level out the playing field.”

But he stressed that any designs created by employees while they work for your company would remain the property of the employer at all times, with no change to that area of the law.

“So whether you’re creating a design for someone or you’re commissioning someone else to create something for you, it’s clear you need to know how the new rules affect your rights – don’t leave it to chance.”