Intellectual property litigation

What is a software licence agreement?

A software  licence agreement (Software Licence Agreement) is a contract where one party (Licensor) grants to another party (Licensee) the right to use the defined software.  It is often used by software developers (Developers) so that they can build and own a core application, customise it for particular clients and provide them with a licence to use the core.  In many cases this licence has been the start of a substantial business enterprise.  The term Software Licence Agreement can apply to both installed software as well as cloud based applications.  That said cloud based Apps are commonly referred to as “Software as a service contracts” or SaaS Contracts because they involve the right to access and use a software application as opposed to a right to reproduce the code. [Read more…]

s115A Copyright Act – infringement outside Australia

Section 115A of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) came into effect on 27 June 2015 and was amended on 11 December 2018 pursuant to the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2018 (no. 157, 2018) (Online Infringement Act).  The effect of the amendments as described in the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill were to amend the threshold test from ‘primary purpose’ to ‘primary effect’, add a rebuttable presumption that an alleged ‘online location’ is located outside Australia, to extend the scope to online search engines (Deindexing Orders) and allow the Court to make “more responsive” orders in terms of injunctive relief. [Read more…]

Can meta tags constitute trade mark infringement?

Search engines use a variety of algorithms and methods to determine the relevancy and ranking of websites on the search results page, based on keywords.  Importantly, search engines can refer to a websites ‘meta tags’ to find relevant words to match with search results.  As a result, meta tags have become increasingly important for businesses and their online presence.  However, the case of Accor Australia & New Zealand Hospitality Pty Ltd v Liv Pty Ltd [2015] FCA 554 (Accor Case) highlights the difficulties of meta tags with respect to trade mark infringement. [Read more…]

Intellectual property assignments and the right to sue

The process of identifying and protecting intellectual property (IP) rights often involves entering into IP assignment deed to transfer rights to another entity.  There are various reasons why parties will want to do such an assignment including asset protection and for the purposes of commercialisation.  The question that often arises after an assignment has occurred is whether or not the recipient (or assignee) of the IP has a right to sue for past infringement of the rights obtained. [Read more…]

Adaptions, computer code and copyright

An adaption in copyright is the exclusive right of the owner of the work in question.  Section 10 of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (Act) defines adaption as it relates to literary works in dramatic and non-dramatic forms, in a computer program and in relation to a musical work.   The rights that apply to adaptions in different separate classes of literary works differ according to the respective category in question. [Read more…]

Innocent infringement of copyright

Under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (Act), copyright infringement occurs regardless of whether it is intentional or not.  Artistic works are particularly susceptible to copyright infringement, because it is possible for two individuals to separately come up with the same idea, reproduce it in a material form, publish it and communicate it to the public.

The result is that an infringer may think they are absolutely entitled to exploit what they consider to be there IP, despite allegations to the contrary.  To deal with this situation, section 115(3) of the Act provides the special defence of “innocent infringement”. [Read more…]

Copyright, code libraries and ownership

In Australia, copyright automatically vests in certain types of literary works, including computer programs and artistic works, upon their creation.  The general rule is that the owner of copyright in a literary or artistic work is the author of that work.[1]  An exception to this rule arises if the work is made by an employee pursuant to the terms of their employment.  In this case, the employer owns the copyright subsisting in the employee-generated work.  However, the distinction of whether an employee has created the work pursuant to the terms of employment, is not always clear.  This issue was considered in the case of Redrock Holdings Pty Ltd and Hotline Communications Ltd v Hinkley [2001] VSC 91 (Redrock). [Read more…]

Compilations from the public domain – confidential or not?

In the case of Ezystay Systems Pty Ltd v Link 2 Pty Ltd [2014] NSWSC 180 (Ezystay) it was held that the plaintiff’s business manuals were confidential despite having been compiled from the documents in “public domain”.  On Appeal, the Court had to re-visit the test for confidential information to determine whether or not the respondents’ software, business manuals and other documents collated from the public domain were in fact capable of being protected as confidential information.

[Read more…]

Tort of conspiracy & confidential information

The tort of conspiracy has been well established in Australia by the High Court, however it is a fairly uncommon cause of action.  The High Court has endorsed some early UK decisions with respect to damage, including the cases of Mogul Steamship Co v McGregor Gow & Co [1892] and Sorrel v Smith [1925] AC 700.  [Read more…]

Injunctions for breach of confidence

The recent Federal Court case of Howden Australia Pty Ltd v Minetek Pty Ltd [2019] FCA 981 highlights some of the challenges faced by applicants when attempting to establish that a breach of confidential information has taken place, and the steps required to obtain an interim injunction prior to the ultimate determination of a matter. [Read more…]

Send this to a friend