Who Owns Your Website?

It is very rare to come across a business without an online presence. Having a website, for example, is such a quick and easy way of reaching customers.

Most businesses appoint a third party to develop their website and assume that any resulting intellectual property rights (“IPR”) are owned by the business paying for the website to be created. This is a dangerous assumption to make.

Websites are made up of several different components, meaning that IPR can include anything from back-end software to images used.

If IPR ownership is not dealt with prior to work commencing, any IPR in the website will be owned by the web developer or another third party. The ideal time to discuss IPR ownership is before any contract is agreed.

Protection of IPR is a valuable asset to any business. If, for instance, you look to sell your business in future, potential buyers will likely require proof of IPR ownership. If such proof is not forthcoming, you will probably be asked to accept responsibility for any IPR claims arising after the sale.

Businesses should also ensure that they are the registrant of their website’s domain name.

Sintons has been involved in multi-million pound transactions that have hinged on IPR and domain name ownership. This can be frustrating for both parties because IPR and domain name ownership are so easily dealt with on day one, before any work is undertaken.

If we can assist you or your business in any way, or if you have any questions in relation to ownership of your website and how best to protect your position, please contact us. We look forward to working with you.

Glenn Coyne is a solicitor in our Intellectual Property team.

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