It is rare that intellectual property disputes are decided by way of summary judgment but here is one example, arising in a copyright dispute. The case is Lennox Estates Ltd v S&W Ventures Ltd and a summary judgment application that was decided on 8 November 2021. Lennox Estates, a property developer, had an option to purchase a property subject to planning permission being obtained. They instructed architects to prepare design drawings and planning permission was obtained, based on those drawings. Copyright in the architect's drawings was assigned to Lennox Estates. However, they did not exercise the option, which subsequently lapsed. S&W Ventures acquired the property with the benefit of the planning permission. They modified the planning permission but, as the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court held, the design of the architect's plans was overwhelmingly retained. The Court held that there was no real prospect of the defendant establishing that copyright did not subsist in the drawings or that they had not been copied.
Of importance to people acquiring property with the benefit of planning permission, the Court held that it was not possible to imply a licence entitling the purchaser in this case to use the drawings used to obtain that planning permission. Purchasers who wish to rely on an existing planning permission must therefore consider copyright and design issues and ensure they have acquired the necessary rights.
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