Naval architects must check provenance of third-party designs, says ITIC
In a recent case, an International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC) member faced legal action for unwittingly infringing design copyright. The member, a naval architect, was asked by a customer to provide final designs and specifications for a workboat based on existing plans supplied by them. As the customer’s stamp was clearly shown on the plans, the naval architect assumed that the customer retained ownership.
Once designed, the workboat was promoted in the press. It was seen by another naval architect who recognised the design as their own and quickly issued a “cease and desist” letter against the ITIC member. It soon became apparent that the customer had placed its own stamp over the details of the original naval architect.
Although the ITIC member had made significant design and specifications amendments to the original plans a copyright barrister – engaged by ITIC – concluded that these were really only refinements and had not adapted the design sufficiently from the original. The only safe and risk-free solution was to discontinue the project in its current form. The ITIC member redesigned the workboat from scratch and ITIC’s copyright expert deemed the new design to be completely original. The workboat has now been built and is fully operational.
ITIC’s action prevented its member from being pursued for breach of copyright and urges all naval architects to ensure they have the right to use or modify plans supplied to them by a third-party.
International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC) is the world’s leading provider of professional indemnity insurance to transport professionals across the globe. As a mutual insurer, it has over 90 years’ experience providing cover to companies in the marine, naval architecture, aviation, rail, offshore and hydrographic industries. With 2,900 members in over 110 countries and with a worldwide network of correspondents, ITIC is the acknowledged leader in its field. ITIC’s insurance has been developed primarily to cover claims of negligence – errors or omissions. Cover can also extend to specialist areas such as debt collection, loss of commission income, cyber liability, cash in transit and directors’ and officers’ insurance. ITIC’s wide cover also includes a unique discretionary insurance which could support claims not normally be paid by other professional indemnity insurers. ITIC is managed by Thomas Miller.