Copyright Ownership of Architectural Drawings in Greenpark Dispute: High Court Judgment in Adventis Ltd v. Superior Homes (K) Ltd.

Greenpark Estate Athi River

This blogger came across the recent judgment of the High Court in the case of Adventis Limited v Superior Homes (K) Limited & another [2015] eKLR. At the heart of this case is Greenpark, a gated housing development with over 600 units off Nairobi’s Mombasa Road near Athi River. In 2004, Adventis was appointed by Superior Homes as lead Architects for Architectural work and services for Greenpark. Later, UK architectural firm of Young & Gault was roped into the project following the disaffection by Superior Homes with the services which were being rendered by Adventis.

The court established that Young & Gault was brought in as a go-between to supervise the work that was being undertaken by Adventis so that Superior Homes would be sure that it was getting the right worth of its money. Later, Superior Homes refused to pay Adventis for services rendered and the latter sued. Among the claims made by Adventis was that Superior Homes infringed the copyright in the architectural drawings by Adventis by converting it’s drawings and holding them out and publishing them for commercial purposes.

The court found in favour of Adventis on the breach of contract claim. With regard to the copyright issues raised by Adventis, the court stated as follows

“Did the Defendants [Superior Homes & E.D.G] infringe the Plaintiff’s [Adventis] Copyright? By purporting to retain the services of the 2nd Defendant [E.D.G] before paying the Plaintiff in full and making use of the Plaintiff’s drawings, it is clear that the 1st Defendant [Superior Homes] did indeed make use of the Plaintiff’s drawings without authority by passing the same over to the 2nd Defendant. It was however admitted by the Plaintiff that as long as the 1st Defendant settled the Plaintiff’s dues and got the Plaintiff’s consent any other person could make use of the drawings. The 2nd Defendant’s case was that the drawings it obtained from Young & Gault had no indication that they belonged to the Plaintiff and was therefore unaware that they were the Plaintiff’s drawings though he conceded that they were the same. In the premises there is no basis upon which the 2nd Defendant can be held liable to the Plaintiff.”

A copy of the judgment is available here.

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