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Re-use of planning drawings without my permission


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I successfully applied for planning permission last year to convert a townhouse garage into habitable space. Whilst often no planning permission is required for this, there are special parameters around parking on my street which meant I needed to apply. The street is a row of about 20 identical (not mirror-image) townhouses in a row.

 

As part of my submission, I engaged an architect to draw up plans, costing around £1k. A neighbour on the street is in the process of selling their house and the prospective owner has just applied for planning permission to do the same work. The planning drawings are identical to mine, other than that the architect's details have been hidden with some different text - it looks like that was done with a white box in powerpoint or paint.

 

This is essentially theft of intellectual property although I feel it may be hard to prove. Do I have any leg to stand on to seek compensation?

 

Thanks for your help!

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I successfully applied for planning permission last year to convert a townhouse garage into habitable space. Whilst often no planning permission is required for this, there are special parameters around parking on my street which meant I needed to apply. The street is a row of about 20 identical (not mirror-image) townhouses in a row.

 

As part of my submission, I engaged an architect to draw up plans, costing around £1k. A neighbour on the street is in the process of selling their house and the prospective owner has just applied for planning permission to do the same work. The planning drawings are identical to mine, other than that the architect's details have been hidden with some different text - it looks like that was done with a white box in powerpoint or paint.

 

This is essentially theft of intellectual property although I feel it may be hard to prove. Do I have any leg to stand on to seek compensation?

 

Thanks for your help!

 

Sadly, UK case law says that information (on its own) can't be stolen.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_v_Moss

 

The issue there was that the student was able to say they never stole the paper the information was written on, as they intended to return it (and for theft, there must be dishonest intent to permanently deprive).

 

All is not lost :

if they took physical plans that weren't theirs to take, they can't face theft charges for taking the information, but could face theft charges for taking the physical medium the plans were on (the paper, or USB stick, or whatever).

 

If they didn't take anything physical but copied intellectual property they weren't entitled to, they could be sued for breach of copyright. Who owns the copyright of the plan?

How do you think they obtained a copy of your plan?.

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Copy of the plans will be on council website, so not hard to get them.

This happens all the time.

My advice: You've had your garage converted and you're happy with it.

Forget about all the rest.

If your neighbour saved £1000 by using your plans, good luck to him.

Why getting upset???

It doesn't cost you anything if he uses your plans.

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Sadly, UK case law says that information (on its own) can't be stolen.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_v_Moss

 

The issue there was that the student was able to say they never stole the paper the information was written on, as they intended to return it (and for theft, there must be dishonest intent to permanently deprive).

 

All is not lost :

if they took physical plans that weren't theirs to take, they can't face theft charges for taking the information, but could face theft charges for taking the physical medium the plans were on (the paper, or USB stick, or whatever).

 

If they didn't take anything physical but copied intellectual property they weren't entitled to, they could be sued for breach of copyright. Who owns the copyright of the plan?

How do you think they obtained a copy of your plan?.

 

sorry, but I disagree with this. There is copyright in the drawings and if they have been reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner then that amounts to a copyright infringement.

 

What you need to discover is who is the copyright owner. If you commissioned a firm of architects to produce the drawings then the chances are that the copyright invests in them and not you. Independent contractors generally speaking retain copyright in their copyright work. Employees don't normally retain copyright and any copyrights are owned by employers.

 

If the drawings have been used in the way you say then it seems to me that the best thing to do is to check with your architect and see whether they say they own the rights in the drawings. I expect that they will do. In that case, it all to their attention and suggest that because you have brought it to their attention that if they are able to recover some money from the copyright infringer, that they might like to give you something back on the money you paid to them.

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Which bit do you disagree with what I posted??

 

The bit where I give the case law that there can't be "theft of intellectual property" _on its own_ ?

 

Or the bit where I suggest the OP may have a cause of action for breach of copyright, instead, and ask who owns the copyright?

 

(As you then point out it could be the OP, the architect, or both ; we don't know what their agreement was).

 

If the copyright is still held by the architect alone the OP has no cause of action (but the architect may).

Then again : you've said that - and have agreed with me!

but only after saying you disagree with me but not pointing out where I was wrong ........

 

The OP was asking about "theft of intellectual property".

I highlighted the limits of what action could be taken for theft, a crime.

I highlighted the civil route that could be followed by the copyright holder for breach of copyright. Where is my mistake?

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Many thanks for the advice. I have taken the consensus view and notified my architect of the breach of copyright. He's grateful that I've pointed it out and is taking the matter up with the new applicant.

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