Property copyright disputes
Commonly we hear about copyright claims insofar as pieces of artwork, musical arrangements and cinematic works are concerned. Less often, however, do you hear about copyright disputes over houses (or more particularly, the designs and plans of a house).
In Coles v Dormer & Ors  QSC 224, Henry J was faced with an Application whereby Coles, the Applicant, sought an injunction against Dormer and Clark from proceeding with construction of their new house which was a replica of the house which Coles had bought at an earlier point in time.
As it transpires, Coles, Dormer and Clark all fell in love with this particular house, but Coles managed to pip Dormer and Clark to the purchase. Not discouraged, Dormer and Clark embarked on their own house construction, using the same design and plans as those used to construct Coles’ house.
Coles, hearing about this, immediately sought the architect assign him the copyright in the architectural drawings and plans, and wrote to Dormer and Clark complaining that they were infringing on his copyright. Unsurprisingly, Dormer and Clark ignored the complaint and proceeded with construction.
Henry J, accepting that copyright in the architectural drawings and plans vested in the architect and were therefore assignable to Coles, granted the Application and ordered Dormer and Clark to remove the roof (and replace it with a different style), remove the round windows and replace them with square and rectangle windows and remove the stonework from the front of the house.
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