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Hello? It’s all OK! Now

» Posted on: 17 May 2007
» Posted by: Tony Catterall
» Service area: Intellectual Property

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The high profile lawsuit surrounding the publication of the photographs from Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones' wedding has been resolved in favour of OK! Magazine.

The celebrity magazine – which had signed a £1million deal with the couple for exclusive coverage of their wedding – took legal action against rival magazine Hello! which published its own photographs of the wedding that were taken secretly.

In 2003 OK! was awarded substantial damages after it was decided that the unofficial publication (in Hello!) had caused commercial damage, but the ruling was then challenged in 2005 when Hello! successfully argued that “spoiler” photographs were a common tactic in the magazine industry.

The final judgment of the House of Lords sees OK! awarded damages of £1 million (the sum awarded in the magazine's original lawsuit) after the Law Lords decreed that Hello! had not directly intended to harm OK!’s business by printing the images.

The House of Lords took the simple view that OK! had made a commercial deal to buy the right to exclusivity at the Douglas celebrity wedding and that:

“The point of which one should never lose sight is that OK! had paid £1m for the benefit of the obligation of confidence imposed upon all those present at the wedding in respect of any photographs of the wedding.

Unless there is some conceptual or policy reason why they should not have the benefit of that obligation, I cannot see why they were not entitled to enforce it. Provided that one keeps one's eye firmly on the money and why it was paid, the case is… quite straightforward.”

The Lords threw out Hello!’s argument that a “right to privacy” under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights was balanced by a right to “freedom of expression” under Article 10. OK!’s claim was not based on privacy, but on protecting confidential information.

Tony Catterall, Head of Intellectual Property said “This judgment will bolster our clients’ ability to protect their trade secrets and information from dishonest employees and rivals.”

For further information about how the leading Intellectual Property team at Taylors can help you and your business, call Tony on 0844 8000 263 or email Tony Catterall

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