British Leyland Motor Corporation Ltd v Armstrong Patents Co Ltd: HL 1986

The claimant’s product was made from drawings. The drawings were protected as copyright artistic works. They were reproduced in a three dimensional form by the claimant’s own products. Someone who copied the claimant’s products indirectly copied the copyright drawings. Therefore there was infringement.
Held: The appeal succeeded. Copyright could not be used to prevent the manufacture or sale of spares for industrial items. Lord Bridge said that the owner of a car: ‘must be entitled to do whatever is necessary to keep it in running order and to effect whatever repairs may be necessary in the most economical way possible.’ This was a right ‘inherent in the ownership of the car itself’. In the case of an exhaust pipe, he could exercise this right by producing a copy himself or instructing someone else (‘the local blacksmith’) to do so. The owners ‘right to repair’ could be of value only if other people could manufacture copy exhausts which the motorist could acquire ‘in an unrestricted market’. There was a ‘clear conflict of legal rights’ between the owner’s right of repair and the manufacturer’s copyright. The question was which right ‘should prevail over the other’. It was the right of the owner.
Lord Templeman saw the right to repair as inalienable:- ‘Every owner of a car has the right to repair it. That right would be useless if suppliers of spare parts were not entitled to anticipate the need for repair. The right cannot, in my view, be withheld by the manufacturer of the car by contract with the first purchaser and cannot be withheld from any subsequent owner.’
Lord Bridge, Lord Templeman
[1986] AC 577, [1986] 2 WLR 400, [1986] 1 All ER 850, [1986] UKHL 7
Copyright Act 1911
England and Wales
CitedBirmingham, Dudley and District Banking Co v Ross CA 1888
Birmingham Corporation secured development of a large area by building agreements which granted leases on completion of the buildings to their builders. One builder, Daniell, erected a building to a height of 48 feet, and assigned his interest under . .
Appeal fromBritish Leyland Motor Corporation Ltd v Armstrong Patents Co Ltd CA 1984
. .

Cited by:
CitedIn Re Smith Kline and French Laboratories Ltd HL 9-Feb-1989
The plaintiffs had applied for a product licence for a patented drug. To support its application, it supplied the authority with confidential information which the authority now sought to make use of the confidential information when considering . .
CitedUltraframe UK Limited v Clayton, Fielding and Others ChD 3-Oct-2002
The claimants asserted infringement of their registered design rights in parts used in their double glazing and conservatory units. ‘Therefore it is possible for design right to subsist in the design of the part of the article which is not excluded . .
CitedNewspaper Licensing Agency Ltd v Marks and Spencer Plc HL 12-Jul-2001
The respondent company subscribed to a cuttings service, but redistributed the cuttings within its offices. The cuttings agency claimed that the re-distribution infringed their rights in the typographical arrangement. The cuttings did not give any . .
CitedKaisha v Green Cartridge Company (Hong Kong) Limited PC 30-Apr-1997
(Hong Kong) The claimants complained of the sale by the defendants of refilled cartridges for use with their printers.
Held: The spare cartridge manufacturer’s appeal failed: ‘repair is by definition something which does not amount to the . .
CitedStone and Another (T/A Tyre 20) v Fleet Mobile Tyres Ltd CA 31-Aug-2006
The defendants appealed an injunction which prevented them soliciting business from any customer of the claimant for one year, granted pursuant to a restrictive covenant contained in a franchise agreement.
Held: The injunction was discharged. . .
Appeal fromMerlet and Another v Mothercare Public Ltd CA 4-Nov-1985
The plaintiff asserted copyright in a ‘raincosy’ which she said had been copied by the defendants. . .
CitedLucasfilm Ltd and Others v Ainsworth and Another SC 27-Jul-2011
The claimant had produced the Star War films which made use of props, in particular a ‘Stormtrooper’ helmet designed by the defendant. The defendant had then himself distributed models of the designs he had created. The appellant obtained judgment . .
CitedRees and Another v Windsor-Clive and Others CA 1-Jul-2020
Reservation Derogation construed normally
Construction of tenancy agreement – correct approach to reservations made in favour of the landlord. The landlord required access to the tenanted farm to allow survey work anticipating development of his adjoining land. The tenant now appealed . .
CitedInterlego AG v Tyco Industries Inc PC 5-May-1988
How much new material for new copyright
(Hong Kong) Toy building bricks were manufactured by Lego in accordance with engineering drawings made for that purpose. One issue was whether new drawings made since 1972, altering the original drawings in various minor respects but added new . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 03 September 2021; Ref: scu.181097