Intellectual property for geeks: who really owns that code? Vanessa Barnett Partner
A little bit of law <ul><li>Copyright, Designs and Patents Act: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>computer code = literary work  </li>...
Ownership of copyright <ul><li>It’s a matter of law first, contract second </li></ul><ul><li>The law says: </li></ul><ul><...
So how does it work in practice? might belong to Steve, but not if tricky employment contract definitely belongs to Edward...
So what should you do? <ul><li>know the law </li></ul><ul><li>check your employment contract/consultancy agreements </li><...
Thank you!
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Intellectual Property for Geeks: Who Owns That Code? Vanessa Barnett

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Intellectual Property for Geeks: Who Owns That Code? Vanessa Barnett

  1. 1. Intellectual property for geeks: who really owns that code? Vanessa Barnett Partner
  2. 2. A little bit of law <ul><li>Copyright, Designs and Patents Act: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>computer code = literary work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>images = artistic work </li></ul></ul><ul><li>each of which is protected by COPYRIGHT </li></ul><ul><li>“ designs” is a legal red herring – that’s a physical thing (like a fancy toilet seat!) </li></ul>
  3. 3. Ownership of copyright <ul><li>It’s a matter of law first, contract second </li></ul><ul><li>The law says: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>author or creator is the “ first owner ” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>but “ subject to any agreement to the contrary ” code created by an EMPLOYEE belongs to EMPLOYER </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>but not so for CONTRACTORS </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But beware contract clauses that reach beyond the law </li></ul><ul><ul><li>employment contracts which reach into private stuff if connected to work stuff </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>contractor/consultancy contracts which contain an assignment of stuff </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. So how does it work in practice? might belong to Steve, but not if tricky employment contract definitely belongs to Edward the tricky bit in the middle: joint ownership! Steve works at Big Biz PLC, codes in his spare time and work time Edward is mates with Steve and John, works in a bar and codes for fun John works as a part time consultant, codes at the same time as his proper work might belong to John, but not if assigned across in his consultancy agreement
  5. 5. So what should you do? <ul><li>know the law </li></ul><ul><li>check your employment contract/consultancy agreements </li></ul><ul><li>have a written agreement when you are developing together to save falling out later (and to make sure you can get the £ out when a big fat buyer comes along!) </li></ul>
  6. 6. Thank you!

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