[LINK] Beechwood homes and IP

Chris Maltby chris at sw.oz.au
Thu Jun 19 13:29:10 AEST 2008

On Thu, Jun 19, 2008 at 07:08:32AM +1000, Richard Chirgwin wrote:
> I've long thought that people in general didn't care about questions of 
> copyrights and patents because such things are too remote from everyday 
> life.
> <http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/receiver-rejects-call-to-release-home-plan/2008/06/18/1213770732792.html>
> It's interesting to see that people caught up in the Beechwood Homes 
> collapse are now running into the nasty end of copyright law. They're 
> being told they can't go ahead and build their homes with some other 
> builder, because the plans they paid for are actually the copyright 
> property of Beechwood.
> It will be interesting to see whether something that clearly brings 
> copyright politics to the kitchen table will have any impact on 
> law-making attitudes... And to people who lobby over IP issues, I would 
> remark that you've never had a better issue given as a gift.


Clearly this is an example of the idiocy of current intellectual
property law, but it also seems to be a failure in contract drafting
of a fairly elementary kind.

It should be routine to include in contracts for supply of any product
embodying licensed intellectual property (such as designs) for the
contract to grant sufficient rights to complete and maintain the product
in the event that the supplier breaches the contract or becomes insolvent.

But if I were one of the customers in this case I would quietly ignore
any such stupid claims and go ahead and complete the building under my
existing license to the design. Beechwood would only be able to persue
any claim for damages during the period of administration, and the
liquidator would need to know about it to make any claim (however
contestable). A court would likely find that any damages would be
negligible - assuming that the liquidator was silly enough to persue
it in court.


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