Assignment of copyright in commissioned works

By Manisha Singh Nair, Lex Orbis IP Practice
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It is advisable that a deed of assignment be executed assigning all IP rights in software to the person commissioning the work as soon as the software is developed and delivered by the vendor or developer. It is also important to ensure that the deed of assignment identifies the work assigned, specifies the rights assigned, and mentions the duration and territorial extent of the assignment.

A division bench of Delhi High Court recently deliberated on the legal consequences provided under the Copyright Act on this issue. The court’s findings are significant for everyone involved in the creation, development and outsourcing of IP work in India.

Facts of the case

Gemalto Terminals Pvt Ltd (respondent) had entered into a master agreement for development services (MSA) with Pine Labs Pvt Ltd (appellant), a software development company, under which Pine Labs was to develop a customized fleet card system for one of Gemalto’s clients, IOCL. When Gemalto was later awarded a contract for a fleet card system for HPCL, Gemalto asked Pine Labs to make the IOCL and HPCL systems interactive. Pine Labs readily agreed, but no consensus on terms could be reached.

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Manisha Singh Nair is a partner at Lex Orbis IP, a New Delhi-based intellectual property practice.

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