- Authorship and ownership of works in the course of employment (Penhallurick v MD5)
- What are the practical implications of this case?
- What was the background?
- What did the court decide?
- Case details
IP analysis: Mr Penhallurick developed a computer program that automated a methodology he had created during the course of completing a master’s thesis. The program was developed, in part, in his spare time using his personal computer. When his employment with MD5 terminated, he claimed ownership of various copyright works in the source code, object code, various versions of the program and a user guide. His Honour Judge Hacon held that the program had been developed in the course of the Mr Penhallurick’s employment with MD5, as part of the central duties for which he was being paid. Therefore, the works vested in MD5, pursuant to section 11(2) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988). While CDPA 1988, s 104 creates a presumption that the person identified on copies of the work as the author is, in fact, the author in circumstances falling outside of CDPA 1988, s 11(2), that presumption is rebuttable on the evidence. Written by Joshua Marshall, senior associate at Fieldfisher LLP.
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