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Alice H
Alice H, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 2850
Experience:  Partner in national law firm with 20+ years legal experience
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, our semi-detached house is a very unique modern house

Resolved Question:

hello, our semi-detached house is a very unique modern house designed by an established architect. Recently someone purchased the adjacent house and has submitted plans to rebuild it as an exact replica of our house, at least from the outside without our consent. Do we have any grounds to object to this?
Thank you
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
My name is ***** ***** I'm happy to help with your question today.
What is your objection?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Our new neighbours are claiming that they paid another architect for the design. It is virtually impossible for this new architect to come up with the identical design so I believe they somehow got hold of our design. My question is : can they legally use our architectural design without our consent?

Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
Copyright is a complex area of law but in general terms the design of a building could fall under artistic works and thus copying could amount to infringement. If the architect or builders plans are copied this is certainly a copyright breach. If the house is quite unique in character and detail then copying could also amount to a breach. If you can prove copyright infringement then you could seek damages and/or an injunction to stop the same design of building being constructed.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your reply.

We purchased our house 5 years ago as a finished product. The previous owners had hired an architect to design the house.

My question is, having purchased the house, are we the legal owners of the design as well, or can the previous owner sell the design without our consent.

Many thanks

Jules

Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
Good question. Unfortunately I can only say "it depends". Ownership of copyright does not pass automatically. The architect, builder and original owner would have protection but it would not necessarily extend to you. I would expect the right to pass but without speaking to the previous owners I cannot be sure.
Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
On reviewing some law, I have doubts about the rights passing to you. The original copyright owner is protected but I cannot see anything in the law to say that right passes to you automatically.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

thank you for your update, what course of action would you advise?

The design does have artistic value. It was the finalist in Grand Designs competition in 2010.

I can certainly get in touch with the architect who in all likelihood is not even aware that his design is being copied.

We are not in talking terms with previous owners. I suspect they may have even been the ones who supplied the design to the neighbours in return for a fee.

Thank you

Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
You need to take further and more detailed advice from a lawyer who specialises in copyright law. You can get a list of solicitors from the Law Society whose web address is www.lawsociety.org.uk. By using the search facility to you should be able to find an appropriate lawyer to advice you further on the next steps including damages for copyright infringement and sn injunction.
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