Taylors Solicitors

| Bookmark | Help | Print

Call us on 01254 297900 

Taylors Solicitors Homepage
     


The Red Bus Case

» Posted on: 29 February 2012
 

» Back to news

» Latest News


A recent Judgment handed down by the Patents County Court Judge HH Judge Birss QC in Temple Island Collections Ltd v New English Teas Ltd and N J Houghton has reinforced the importance of Taylors’ landmark House of Lords case of Designers Guild v Russell Williams Textiles on copyright infringement.

A recent Judgment handed down by the Patents County Court Judge HH Judge Birss QC in Temple Island Collections Ltd v New English Teas Ltd and N J Houghton has reinforced the importance of Taylors’ landmark House of Lords case of Designers Guild v Russell Williams Textiles on copyright infringement.

The “red bus case” brought by Temple Island Collections Limited, a company producing London souvenirs, concerned copyright in their iconic photograph of a red bus on Westminster Bridge. A copy of the Temple Island photograph and the rival New English Teas version can be seen in the Patents County Court judgment.

The Claimant’s photographer had spent some 80 hours on the red bus photo, which was manipulated in Photoshop using a technique inspired by the film Schindler’s List. The image had become famous and had been licensed by Temple Island to, among others, the organisation which operates the Tower of London.

The Defendants wished to produce an image using the same iconic London landmarks with grey scale Houses of Parliament and a red bus on the bridge. They came up with the photo at Annex 2 of the judgment.

The Claimant argued that a substantial part of its image must have been reproduced by the Defendants, who said that copyright law could not be used to give Temple Island a monopoly in a black and white image of the Houses of Parliament with a red bus in it.

The Judge confirmed that copyright protection (which exists in an original artistic work) can extend to a photograph if it is the author’s own “intellectual creation” and not just a mechanical exercise of a recording of light by merely pressing a button.

Designers Guild sets out the basis for assessing whether an infringement of copyright has taken place: first one asks whether there has been copying and if so which features have been copied, and then asks whether that represents a substantial part of the original. Substantiality is a matter of quality, not quantity.

The Judge found that, whilst the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and a red Routemaster bus are iconic images of London, and the technique used was not unique, the Claimant’s work was original. Two noteworthy elements of the photo were its composition and the visual contrasts between the bus/the monochrome background and the blank white sky/the rest of the photograph. These were the expression of the skill and labour exercised by the photographer and his intellectual creation.

Differences between an original work and an alleged copy do not help on the question of whether copying has taken place but can have a bearing on whether a substantial part of one artistic work has been taken into another. The Judge found here that a substantial part of the Claimant’s work – “an aesthetic quality, a simplicity and clarity” – had been copied. The Defendants were free to use an image of London landmarks, but what they were not free to do was copy a substantial part of the Claimant’s work.

For more information and advice on how Taylors’ IP team can add value to your business, contact Tony Catterall, tony.catterall@taylors.co.uk or
01254 297900
.

Copyright 2006 - 2012 Taylors Solicitors

» Print          »

 
Home  |  Services  |  News  |  People  |  About  |  Contact
Blackburn: Rawlings House, Exchange Street, Blackburn, BB1 7JN.
Tel: 01254 297900 / Fax: 01254 297916
Manchester: Ninth Floor, 80 Mosley Street, Manchester, M2 3FX.
Tel: 0161 200 5690 / Fax: 0161 200 5699
©Taylors Legal Services Ltd. Company Number 02660001.  |  Website Terms  |  Data Protection  |  Website Design  |  Sitemap
Regulated by The Law Society