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

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  • 1. Intellectual property for geeks: who really owns that code? Vanessa Barnett Partner
  • 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. 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. 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. 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. Thank you!

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