Did you know the Intellectual Property Act 2014 came into force today (1 October 2014)?
A straw poll of contacts reveals very few people are aware of this new piece of legislation, yet hidden amongst the sensible protections for registered designs and red tape shredding is a change that has massive implications for anyone who commissions design work.
The Act brings the UK law in line with European law on the matter of design ownership. What this means in practice is that if you outsource design work the rights to that work belong to the designer by default.
That’s right. You pay for the work. The designer keeps the rights.
How many companies are commissioning work right now without knowing that little bombshell, I wonder?
There are ways round this. I’m advising my clients to agree a contractual term with all their designers to ensure they retain full rights over any designs they pay for, and I’d advise you to do the same. A useful Eversheds update on the law here suggests this is merely formalising good practice; but are you sure your design contracts have such a clause in place? Do you even have a contract with your designer?
It may be worth checking before you lose the rights to your own materials.