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Copyright and intellectual property rights - dispelling IP myths


As part of our everyday work, we hear the same intellectual property (IP) myths time and time again.

The law and rights relating to intellectual property might seem a bit of a mystery if you aren’t familiar with it especially with regard to copyright. It’s perfectly understandable that, unless you are told otherwise, you might believe certain things about IP are true, especially if they are ideas you’ve firmly held for a long time.

Whilst it’s unclear how these ‘IP myths’ develop, or where they come from, they can cause problems in businesses and so it is important to be aware of them to avoid being caught out by them.

We’ve compiled a list of questions and answers about some of the most popular myths that we come across. Over the coming months we’ll be releasing a series of blogs to tackle these myths in an attempt to dispel them once and for all! To begin with, we take a look at one of the most popular…

If I’ve paid for it, don’t I own it?

Answer: You don’t always get what you (might think) you pay for!

This is probably the most popular myth of all and certainly the one we hear most. The fact that you have paid for the work though, does not give you legal title to it.

The area where we see this most is in relation to copyright, such as where a third party has been commissioned to design a website. Unless there’s a signed written assignment to the contrary, copyright in the design of the website will be owned by the party that created it. An exception to this is if the design of the website was created by an employee in the course of his or her employment. In this case, the employer will automatically be the owner.

Depending on the particular circumstances, it is likely that the commissioner of the website would have an implied licence to use the website design for the purpose for which it was commissioned, but they will not own the legal title to the copyright, unless a signed, written assignment is given.

If you have any questions about designs or copyright in particular, or  IP in general, please contact our Intellectual Property Team.

Disclaimer: Anything posted on this blog is for general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any general or specific matter. Please refer to our terms and conditions for further information. Please contact the author of the blog if you would like to discuss the issues raised.