IPC Media Ltd v Highbury-Leisure Publishing Ltd: ChD 21 Dec 2004

The claimant magazine publisher alleged breach of copyright by the defendant in their magazine, as to the cover page designs used. It was not clear just which cover was said to have been copied.
Held: The first step in a copyright action is for the claimant to identify what work or works he relies on. The claims were consistently indistinct in the allegations of just what had been copied. Claims for artisitic infringement were interspersed with claims of literary infringement. The two should not be mixed: ‘It is impossible to define the boundary between the mere taking of general concepts and ideas on the one hand and copying in the copyright sense on the other’. The claimant pointed only to the similarities, and ignored significant differences, and ‘some parts of this allegation of copying verge on the absurd . . .’ A credible case had not been made out.
Laddie J explained: ‘ . . If an author puts sufficient relevant artistic effort into producing a drawing or other artistic work from known ingredients, it will be protected by copyright. Monet was, no doubt, not the first artist to paint water lilies, but his paintings of them were protected by copyright. They would also not have been deprived of copyright because they were very similar to earlier paintings by him dealing with the same subject matter.’


Laddies J


[2004] EWHC 2985 (Ch), [2005] FSR 20




Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 1(1)


England and Wales


CitedKing Features Syndicate Inc v O&M Kleeman Ltd CA 2-Jan-1940
. .
CitedCala Homes (South) Ltd and Others v Alfred Mcalpine Homes East Ltd (No 2) ChD 30-Oct-1995
A plaintiff may claim damages under section 97(2) in addition to claiming an account of profits, as his primary remedy. A person claiming joint rights in the copyright as author must contribute to the ‘production’ of the work and create something . .
CitedKing Features Syndicate Inc v O and M Kleeman Ltd ChD 1940
The plaintiff alleging copyright infringement, had relied on fifty five drawings of the Popeye character out of the many thousands of such drawings in the cartoon series. The defendant might have copied from any one of those thousands.
Held: . .
CitedGreen v Broadcasting Corporation of New Zealand PC 18-Jul-1989
Format of TV show not copyrightable
Court of Appeal of New Zealand – The plaintiff had developed the program ‘Opportunity Knocks’ on British television. He claimed copyright in the general structure or format of a similar television programme in New Zealand, and also in passing off. . .
CitedDesigners Guild Ltd v Russell Williams (Textiles) Ltd CA 26-Mar-1999
The claimant alleged copying of designs. The defendant appealed a finding that copying had taken place.
Held: The rejection of the dissection test in Ladbroke was as to the subsistence of copyright and not as to infringement. Evidence of those . .
CitedNichols v Universal Pictures Co 1930
(US Second Circuit) The judge discussed the difficulty in copyright cases in drawing the line between the taking of general concepts and copying in an infringing manner: ‘Upon any work, and especially upon a play, a great number of patterns of . .
CitedLadbroke (Football) Ltd v William Hill (Football) Ltd HL 1964
What is substantial copying
The plaintiff alleged copying of their football pools coupons and copyright infringement. The issues were as to the extent of copying required to establish infringement, and whether it was proper to look at the several parts of the work separately. . .
CitedDesigners Guild Ltd v Russell Williams (Textiles) Ltd (Trading As Washington DC) HL 28-Nov-2000
Copyright Claim: Was it Copied, and How Much?
The claimant sought to enforce its copyright in artwork for a fabric design Ixia, saying the defendant’s design Marguerite infringed that copyright. Two issues faced the House. Just what had been copied and if any, then did this amount amount to the . .

Cited by:

CitedBaigent and Another v The Random House Group Ltd (The Da Vinci Code) ChD 7-Apr-2006
The claimants alleged infringement of copyright by the defendant publishers and author in the plot and otherwise in the book ‘The Da Vinci Code’. They said that their own work had been copied substantially, using themes and copying language. The . .
CitedCoffey v Warner Chappell Music Ltd, Warner Music UK Ltd and EMI Music Publishing Ltd ChD 16-May-2005
The singer had recorded a song, ‘Forever After’. She sought damages in copyright saying that a later recording by the defendants titled ‘Nothing Really Matters’ was infringing, having copied elements of the voice expression of her own performance, . .
CitedHRH The Duchess of Sussex v Associated Newspapers Ltd ChD 11-Feb-2021
Defence had no prospect of success – Struck Out
The claimant complained that the defendant newspaper had published contents from a letter she had sent to her father. The court now considered her claims in breach of privacy and copyright, and her request for summary judgment.
Held: Warby J . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Intellectual Property

Updated: 23 July 2022; Ref: scu.226183