Q&As

If an employee develops, produces and publishes materials for use, eg with pupils during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, can they claim ownership of related intellectual property rights?

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Published on LexisPSL on 20/05/2020

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

  • If an employee develops, produces and publishes materials for use, eg with pupils during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, can they claim ownership of related intellectual property rights?

By operation of law in the UK, most sorts of intellectual property (IP) rights created by employees in the course of their duties belong to the employer. This is reversed in relation to moral rights in artistic works, such as books, music or art, which belong to the employee unless the contract states otherwise. This means that the employee will have the right to be identified as the creator of the work and to object to it being distorted, but will not have any economic rights.

This position arises pursuant to the relevant statutes governing that particular area of IP. For example, the general rule under section 11(1) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988) is that the author of a work is the first owner of any copyright in it. However, the first owner of any copyright in literary, musical, dramatic and artistic works which is made by an employee in the course of the

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