Darwen software house Businesslinx Limited and
its MD, Mark Hargreaves have successfully beaten off a claim by
their customer, Clearsprings (Management) Limited to ownership of a
major software package designed by Businesslinx for Clearsprings.
The CMIS system was written by Businesslinx over a period of four
years and at a cost exceeding £1.1million. It is an innovative, web
based management system used for the allocation of housing and other
facilities offered by the government to asylum seekers.
In its claim, Clearsprings alleged that it was entitled to ownership
of the CMIS system and that it had the right to sell or licence it
on to third parties without Businesslinx’ consent.
By his judgment handed down on 14 July 2005, Deputy Judge
Christopher Floyd QC held that Clearsprings had a non-exclusive
licence under the copyright in the CMIS system but no right of
ownership nor any right to sub-licence. The Judge also ordered that
Clearsprings pay an immediate contribution towards Businesslinx’
costs of £90,000, with the balance to be assessed.
Mark Hargreaves said: “This is a classic story of David taking on
Goliath and winning. I am delighted that the Judge has supported the
line we have taken throughout this case – in accordance with the
advice of our solicitors Taylors - that we at Businesslinx are the
owners of the copyright in the software notwithstanding it was
commissioned by Clearsprings. We now look forward to developing the
business opportunities presented by this judgment”.
Businesslinx and Mark Hargreaves were advised throughout by the
Intellectual Property team at Taylors and Head of IP Mr
“I am very pleased that Taylors has once again taken on the London
intellectual property establishment and come out on top.
Businesslinx was put under heavy financial pressure in this case,
which went from inception to trial in three months, and it is a
tribute to Mark Hargreaves that he kept his nerve. This judgment
reinforces the point that software houses and their clients should
give careful thought to the ownership of copyright in commissioned
works. This starting point remains that the contractor is entitled
to retain copyright unless there is an express agreement or the
terms of the deal are such that an assignment must be implied”.
Click here to see the judgement (PDF
Copyright 2006 - 2010 Taylors Solicitors
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