NEWS: High Court dispute over Rabbit logo to test copyright laws

A major advertiser this week threatened to drive a coach and horses through standard pitch practices by urging a High Court judge to rule that it owned the copyright to creative work presented by an agency before a contract had been signed.

A major advertiser this week threatened to drive a coach and horses

through standard pitch practices by urging a High Court judge to rule

that it owned the copyright to creative work presented by an agency

before a contract had been signed.



Hutchison Personal Communications claims Hook Advertising was

contractually bound to hand over the rights to the Rabbit telepoint logo

it devised even before the idea had been patented, and prior to knowing

whether or not it would ‘bomb’ during research.



The case is the climax of a marathon dispute between Hutchison and Chris

Joseph, Hook’s chairman and the creator of the logo, which began when

the agency was fired from the pounds 4 million Rabbit account four years

ago.



Mrs Justice Arden’s ruling looks set to create the first legal precedent

to determine the amount of control agencies have over their creative

ideas.



Joseph, however, was only a partial spectator at the hearing. He sat

tense and silent at the back of the court, recovering from a bout of

depression that had earlier caused the case to be postponed for a week

(Campaign, last week).



The legal argument centres on a clause in the contract that was based on

a standard one produced by the Institute of Practitioners in

Advertising. It said Hook would assign ‘all or any ‘ad material’ as is

vested in us’ to BYPS - a telepoint consortium consisting of Barclays,

Philips and Shell.



Hook’s lawyers argue that the logo was produced as a result of the

agency’s initiative before the five-way pitch, rather than at

Hutchison’s request. They argue that Hutchison’s claim to have the

copyright assigned to it should be thrown out.



But Mark Platts-Mills QC, acting for Hutchison, told the judge: ‘Our

contention is that ‘all and any’ means exactly what it says.’



He added: ‘The Rabbit logo was plainly created for the purpose of our

advertising, and there is no argument that because it was created before

the agreement was entered into it can’t be ‘caught’ by it. If copyright

is vested in Hook, Hutchison gets it.’



The case continues.



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