Magazine article Marketing

Legal Q & A

Magazine article Marketing

Legal Q & A

Article excerpt

Q I have produced a number of design works in the course of my employment. I now wish to leave the company. As the designs were all my ideas, can I take the works with me and make use of them in my new job? Would it have made any difference if I were freelance?

A Under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, the first ownership of copyright in work where the creator is an employee, belongs to the employer. This runs contrary to the general rule as provided in the Act, that the first owner of copyright is the creator. There are circumstances where the status of 'an employee' may be ambiguous, for example, where the employee is registered as self-employed for tax purposes. The court will look at several factors if there is ambiguity of an employee's status, including mutuality of obligations, degree of control, entitlement to sick and holiday pay, as well as the tax position.

The position may also be covered in the contract between the parties, expressly stating who is to own the copyright in work created by the 'employee'. …

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