[LINK] Beechwood homes and IP

Richard Chirgwin rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Fri Jun 20 08:07:53 AEST 2008

Chris Maltby wrote:
> 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.
> Richard,
> 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.
Apparently, bodies like councils are putting themselves in the role of 
copyright enforcers, which is just wrong. From the original story:
> Mr Mathias said he was told by Baulkham Hills Council three weeks ago 
> he had to obtain a written waiver from Beechwood's receiver if he 
> wanted to use another builder, because the development application had 
> been lodged under Beechwood's name.
The upshot is that the owner can't ignore Deloitte, because the council 
is saying "no waiver, no permit". Now, I don't see where a local council 
has a role in deciding one way or the other who owns the plans; this is 
in no way relevant to whether the plans are eligible for building approval.

> Chris

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