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  • William Kanaan

Employer owns copyright relating to software

The Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) found in favour of a defendant company, X, in copyright infringement proceedings, granting a declaration that X was the owner of copyright in various literary works relating to software created by the claimant, Y, who was X’s employee.

The works in issue were various versions of the software, a user interface and a user guide.

The Court found that the evidence showed that making the software was the central task for which X was paying Y during his employment. The fact that some of the work was carried out in Y’s home and on his personal computer did not change the fact that it formed part of his employment duties nor that it was created by Y with the knowledge, encouragement and payment from X for making and improving software sold by X.

X was therefore the first owner of copyright in all the versions. Furthermore, copyright was assigned to X under an intellectual property clause in an agreement between the parties. As such, X was the owner of copyright in all the works.

X’s attempt to identify himself as the copyright owner on each version of the software and in the user guide did not create any rights of ownership under section 104 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

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