When assigning IP of websites in the UK what is assigned?

Tracing copyright owners and asking permission.
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When assigning IP of websites in the UK what is assigned?

Post by deshg »

Hey everyone,

I am building a site for a new client and he wants all intellectual property signed over to his company and no reference to me as the developer (and no references on my sites that I have built this). This is obviously fine as long as he pays the appropriate money. My question is what are you actually assigning to him? For example (as with all websites) I will reuse code that I have used repeatedly on other sites for standard functionality (such as file uploading, contact form processing etc). This is backend code and is identical across numerous sites as the required functionality is the same. If I sign over the IP to him then what is the situation with items such as this, surely he can't get exclusive IP on this as it's already out there. Similarly this can't surely prevent me from replicating certain parts of the code i use on his site on other sites when i need to recreate the same functionality as this would effectively prevent me from being able to do certain things on other non related sites (or force me to do them in different less effective ways).

Obviously I appreciate the reality is he's doing this to allow himself to make future updates and prevent me from charging him lots of money ongoing (which is fair enough) and he's unlikely to object/find out if I do reuse snippets of code but I am interested what the actual legal situation/ramifications are? FYI we are both based in the UK.

Thanks so much for your help,

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Post by six gun »

I suspect this guy is not thinking about the clockwork of the site.

He is concerned you could clone the look of his site and use it elsewhere.

When he says the IP of the site I suspect he will mean the designs, text, images and so on. What you see on the screen.

If you were to write new code, to create some new module for the chap, then this would be different but having built a ton of websites, the code in the backend of sites is very much the same but the sites look very different.

He might have something of a claim of the css files as these determine the colour, font and so on.

Such a lot of code is in the public domain these days.

I mean if in reality you were selling him the copyright to all the coding you could lay claim to as your own, you would be selling him the rights to your future livelihood.

I think it would be best to clarify issues with the chap. To say the layout, images, designs and so on are yours and be specific in writing about this but that coding not specific to that website is not covered.
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Post by CopyrightAid »

Yes. You should clarify this in your contract with him.

If it was me, the route I would take is as follows:

All work I have created is mine (as the creator) until I receive full payment.

Upon payment CUSTOM WORK that I have done for THAT CLIENT ALONE (i.e. the 'look/theme' of the site) is handed over to the client (i.e. they are now the copyright owner).

ALL OTHER CODE that I have created (either previously or as part of the project) that I may reuse in other projects is released to the client under licence (i.e. I am the copyright owner - they simply have permission to use my code in their site).

- This last point is basically how software works anyway - If I buy a copy of MS Office, I have purchased a licence to use it on my PC - I have no claim to ownership of the MS code.

Obviously it makes sense to separate out the different types of material (i.e. have a separate folder for your re-usable code 'libraries').
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Post by AndyJ »

Take a look here for a boilerplate contract which has been written specifically for this purpose.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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