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Who owns copyright in an academic’s work?

This golden oldie popped up in the statistics of recently read articles on this blog. Dr Rahmatian is now a professor of commercial law at the University of Glasgow and has written further published articles on IP subjects, at least some of which assert that he owns the copyright in them!

IP Draughts

butterflyRegular readers of this blog will know that IP Draughts is sceptical about the value of some of the articles in academic law journals. Too many of them seem to be engaged in a private conversation between academics that has very little connection with the world that IP Draughts inhabits.

A recent article in Legal Studies, the journal of the Society of Legal Scholars (SLS), bucks this trend. Make the butterflies fly in formation? Management of copyright created by academics in UK universities, by Dr Andreas Rahmatian of the University of Glasgow (Legal Studies Vol 34 No 4, 2014, pp 709-735) makes some interesting points about the ownership of copyright in works created by an academic employee. Not only are the points interesting, but they have practical relevance to anyone who is involved in drafting, interpreting or advising on IP ownership issues within a university. It is to SLS’s credit…

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Copyright in training materials: interpreting the assignment clause

On reflection, IP Draughts wonders whether the drafter of this assignment clause was making a distinction between IP and IPR – a distinction that he dislikes but sees in some contracts. If so, this probably supports the judge’s interpretation.

IP Draughts

Dr Susie Wilkinson

Picture the scene.  You have been conducting research on communications skills for medical professionals for several decades.  You have trained nurses in communication skills and written training materials for them.  You own the copyright in these materials, some of which are based on the contents of your PhD.  You are also a published co-author of an Oxford University Press book for healthcare professionals, and are or were an honorary senior lecturer at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

You are asked to participate in a joint bid to write training materials on the subject of communication skills in relation to the treatment of cancer patients.  These materials are to be used nationally by the UK National Health Service (“NHS”).  You are happy for the copyright in these materials to belong to the NHS, provided you do not lose ownership to your pre-existing intellectual property (“IP”).

The…

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10 points to look for in a draft agreement

What is it about lists that makes them popular? Over the years, this blog has created a few lists, and this golden oldie from 2015 is one of them.

IP Draughts

once overYou are sent a draft agreement and asked to review it. No other instructions are given. You are expected to know what the client wants, without asking. In the case of technology-related agreements, perhaps they think you don’t need to know the subject-matter, or that you wouldn’t understand it.

Some people are willing to go along with this, and to advise as a ‘paper exercise’ without knowing anything about the subject-matter of the deal, what commercial discussions have already taken place, what are the client’s objectives and priorities, and so on.

IP Draughts is very reluctant to advise on this basis.

In IP Draughts’ experience, digging into the details and discussing the project with the client’s representative is usually essential, and is always efficient, if the agreement is to be well-drafted and protect the client’s interests. Persistence is sometimes required to coax useful instructions out of a client who may…

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Assignment of trade secrets: selling moonbeams in a jar?

No-one seems to have picked up on the song reference in the title to this golden oldie. Two golden oldies for the price of one…

IP Draughts

moonbeam jarA recent article on IPKat, Assignment and licence-back of a trade secret: no yawning matter, has prompted IP Draughts to remove the dustsheets from one of his favourite hobbyhorses.  As discussed briefly on this blog here in 2011, IP Draughts is troubled by the very idea of an assignment of know-how.

First, we need to define our terms.  The title of this article, echoing the IPKat article mentioned earlier, refers to trade secrets, while the earlier article on this blog, linked above, referred to know-how.

In English law and, as far as he understands them, US laws, “trade secrets” are generally regarded as the most sensitive items of confidential information, and are distinguished from less important categories of confidential information. It is not always easy to make the distinction.  Nearly a century ago, Lord Parker in the case of Herbert Morris Ltd v Saxelby [1916] 1 AC 688 came…

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