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
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
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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