Q&As

If a building plot with planning permission is purchased, is there an inherent right to build according to the plans and specifications of the planning permission or would such use constitute infringement of the design rights and copyright in the plans? If permission is required, how and from whom can permission be sought?

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Produced in partnership with Joshua Marshall of Fieldfisher
Published on LexisPSL on 20/03/2018

The following IP Q&A Produced in partnership with Joshua Marshall of Fieldfisher provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • If a building plot with planning permission is purchased, is there an inherent right to build according to the plans and specifications of the planning permission or would such use constitute infringement of the design rights and copyright in the plans? If permission is required, how and from whom can permission be sought?

In answering this Q&A, we have not addressed the issue of moral rights which may be asserted by the author of the original copyright work. For further information, see Practice Note: Moral rights and Chapter IV of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988).

The starting point is that in this case, absent any evidence to the contrary, copyright will likely subsist in the architectural plans and specifications submitted in order to obtain planning permission. The plans will be protected by artistic copyright works, specifically, graphic works, pursuant to CDPA 1988, s 4.

Copyright is infringed where the defendant carries out acts which the claimant has the exclusive right to do, or authorises a third party to carry out those acts (CDPA 1988, s 16). In this case, the infringing acts are likely to be:

  1. copying the copyright work which includes reproducing an artistic copyright work in any material form (CDPA 1988, s 17). This may be through reproducing copies of the plans or making a building to that plan

  2. issuing copies of the copyright work to the public (CDPA 1988, s 18). This may occur where copies of the plans are distributed to potential ‘off plan’ buyers of any building to be erected in the future

Copyright is only infringed by a person who carries out these acts without the licence of the copyright

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