Q&As

Can IP rights in works created by a supplier and provided to its client under a Supplier Agreement be deemed to be the UK equivalent of ‘work made for hire’ and therefore automatically owned by the client?

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Published on LexisPSL on 10/04/2018

The following IP Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Can IP rights in works created by a supplier and provided to its client under a Supplier Agreement be deemed to be the UK equivalent of ‘work made for hire’ and therefore automatically owned by the client?
  • The US concept of work made for hire
  • In the UK
  • A Supplier Agreement

It has been assumed that copyright subsists in the works under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988). See Practice Note: Copyright—subsistence and qualification. It has also been assumed that the law of England and Wales applies.

This Q&A covers copyright law only.

The US concept of work made for hire

In the US, the copyright in any work belongs initially to its author. In the case of a work made for hire, the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared is considered the author unless the parties have expressly agreed otherwise in a written instrument signed by them. For further detail, see EF&P: USA: authorship ownership and transfer of copyright: Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents [78].

In the UK

For original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works in the UK, CDPA 1988, s 9 defines the author of each category of work as the person who created it. The first owner of any copyright in a work is the author (CDPA 1988, s11(1)).

The first owner of the copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or in a film made after 1 July 1994, made by an employee in the course of his employment will be the employer (unless there is agreement to the contrary) (CDPA 1988, s 11(2)).

In the UK, copyright in a commissioned work belongs to the author in the

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