By Rufina Cheung (Portfolio Lead – Commercial Law) of Wolters Kluwer
The Queensland Supreme Court has ordered a builder and home owner to change the external facade of a house which was constructed in infringement of copyright in house plans: Coles v Dormer & Ors (2015) AIPC ¶92-492;  QSC 224.
Some key points of this case are as follows:
- Courts may be willing to grant an injunction to change the appearance of a building if the defendants knowingly pressed on in constructing it in infringement of the copyright in house plans.
- The grant of an injunction and prompt compliance with the injunction may significantly reduce the amount of damages and additional damages awarded.
- Plaintiffs can delay choosing between damages and an account of profits until after the court decides whether to grant an injunction.
- A building designer can own copyright in housing plans even if someone else provided draft plans and design ideas in a “rough ideas e-mail”.
- For joint authorship, the contribution must be to the relevant copyright work not some other work.
This case has been reported in CCH’s Australian Industrial & Intellectual Property service and may be cited as Coles v Dormer & Ors (2015) AIPC ¶92-492;  QSC 224. The Editorial Comment at the end of the headnote contains further analysis of the implications of this case.