Implied Licenses and Ownership of Mental Assets Rights in the United Kingdom

In Robin Ray v Classic FM, the English Superior Court docket held that a contractor giving services owns the mental assets in the elements produced for the shopper. The final decision is a handy manual to contractors as it is a single of the main circumstances in figuring out the regardless of whether a commissioner of intellectual house might use mental property for reasons not expressly contemplated by a written arrangement.


Mr Ray was a highly highly regarded specialist in classical music in England, reputed to have an encyclopaedic awareness of classical audio. He was engaged by Typical FM in the United Kingdom in 1991 to compile the radio station’s repertoire, compile playlists, categorising tracks for participate in lists, and rate their reputation under every of the classes. The deal did not offer with intellectual house rights. The consultancy agreement was initially for 11 months, nevertheless the work of Mr Ray proved useful for Traditional FM, and his providers ended up prolonged until eventually 1997. Some 50,000 tracks were sooner or later categorised. The outcomes of the work ended up integrated into a database that was utilised to select songs on a rotational foundation, and avert overplaying.

The task was achievement. Just after inside use for about 5 yrs, Typical FM proposed to licence the databases to overseas companies. Mr Ray objected and commenced proceedings to prevent Common FM licensing the use outside the Uk without having his authorization, on the basis that he was the author of documents that were being integrated into the database.

The Determination of the High Courtroom

Mr Justice Lightman in the Superior Court docket ruled that in the case of a consultancy, the writer retained the copyright in the absence of an specific or implied time period to the opposite impact. Exactly where services by a advisor are executed for an convey reason, a court will easily indicate a time period into a agreement for services that a customer is entitled to use it for that reason. In this scenario, Typical FM generally intended to utilise the Mr Ray’s do the job in the United kingdom. It was not right up until 1996 that Classic FM intended to exploit Mr Ray’s operate overseas. The court was not prepared to imply a licence into the agreement that Classic FM would be entitled to exploit his do the job overseas. Vintage FM was prevented from exploiting their database overseas without having the consent of Mr Ray, which would involve payment of license costs.

When implying licences in this way, a court will only go so considerably as is necessary in the situations to give result to the intention of the parties. If a grant of a licence is demanded, the ambit of the licence will be the minimum essential to give impact to the intention of the events at the time of the contract. An implied term that copyright would be assigned to a client will be exceptionally scarce, as most often an exceptional licence will have the same effect in legislation.

The choose held that the contractor retains the copyright in default of some categorical or implied time period to the opposite outcome. The deal might expressly condition which occasion is entitled to the copyright, and the mere actuality that the contractor has been commissioned – performed by a contractor – is inadequate to grant rights in the copyright to the client. In the absence of express rights, the shopper is still left to set up an entitlement under the specific or implied time period of the agreement.


The conclusion suggests that contractors retain the copyright in the absence of an implied or categorical time period. An implied licence will have to be affordable and equitable essential to give business enterprise efficacy to the contract, capable of obvious expression and not contrary to any specific expression of the deal, and so noticeable that it goes without the need of declaring. Ownership of mental assets rights and licenses to use the legal rights need to not be left to prospect it is preferable to unwelcome implied licenses which enable a client to use a do the job and and instead provide the said functions for whci use might be created at the outset of the engagement. As a result it is vital to document the functions of the engagement and the supposed use for the copyright get the job done made in the course of the program of the engagement.

more insights