08/06/2004 - 22:00

Builders behind on IP issues

08/06/2004 - 22:00


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Builders behind on IP issues

AN expert in intellectual property rights has expressed concern at the lack of reaction from within the building industry after a court case involving Seacrest Homes and Hillcrest Homes.

Wangara-based builder Seacrest Homes was awarded $38,000 jointly in an action against Hillcrest and a client, Wangara car dealer Graham Bond.

The case involved the design by Seacrest of a two-storey mansion on a block in Marmion for Mr Bond. The relationship between the parties did not proceed to the building stage, however.

Mr Bond then took the plans to Hillcrest Homes, which built the home at a cheaper price than that quoted by Seacrest.

In its defence, Hillcrest claimed it did not understand its obligations under the Copyright Act.

During the trial District Court Judge Kennedy found Mr Bond’s evidence unreliable, and awarded damages under the Copyright Act, where the judge can take into account all parties’ behaviour.

Lecturer in intellectual property at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Associate Professor Phil Evans, said he was concerned there hadn’t been more of an impact on the building industry.

“Builders clearly have to be aware of who owns a copyright,” he said.

“A designer retains copyright in plans created unless it is expressly agreed otherwise to licence or allow another party to use them outright.

“Prospective homeowners don’t understand copyright, so builders need to be aware of it in order to avoid infringements.”

One of Perth’s largest home builders, Dale Alcock, said there had been no immediate reaction from industry other than to raise awareness.

“It is terrific that the issue has been aired, as it is a prominent problem,” Mr Alcock said.

“We always make clients aware of copyright and design over plans and we won’t work on another builder’s work.”

Lawyer Michael Hotchkin, who represented Seacrest, said he had expected a bigger response from industry following the case because of the huge ramifications it held.


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