For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

No Snuggles for O'Kelly

The subscription-only service of LexisNexis Butterworths has rather sparsely noted Animatrix Ltd and others v O'Kelly [2008] EWHC 438 (Ch). This is a rare but not unprecedented ruling by Philip Sales QC, sitting yesterday as a Deputy Judge of the Chancery Division in an IP matter (an earlier foray into IP was noted by the IPKat here).

O'Kelly was the creator of Dr Snuggles, a fictional character who once starred in his own cartoon series on the TV. The first claimant, Animatrix, was the assignee of the copyright in Dr Snuggles, but held that copyright on trust for a second claimant - a limited liability between O'Kelly's own corporate vehicle and the third claimant (a corporate vehicle by which a new Mr Snuggles series was being financed).

After the relationship between the third claimant and O'Kelly broke down, O'Kelly maintained that he was the legal owner of the copyright because the deed of assignment was ineffective to pass the rights to Animatrix. The three claimants disagreed and sued for a declaration that the rights belonged to them. The story almost ended happily after, when the action was compromised on terms that the application for a declaration would be stayed so that O'Kelly could find the £325,000he needed to pay the claimants by as a settlement fee, the idea being that if no settlement payment was forthcoming, Dr Snuggles would be held in trust by Animatrix as trustee for the second claimant. No payment was forthcoming, so the claimants sought their declaration. O'Kelly maintained that the court should not exercise its discretion to make that declaration.

Philip Sales QC granted the application. In his view, taking the terms of the settlement agreement into account, the claimants were entitled to be treated as the full legal owner and as beneficial owner, respectively, of Dr Snuggles.

Left: Snuggles, adopted 2/7/04. Does anyone know what happened to her? Does she belong to Animatrix too?

Frustratingly the note on this case gives no clue as to the issues the judge was being asked to weigh up. Was O'Kelly simply seeking more time to pay? Was he trying the reopen the issues that the compromise agreement supposedly resolved? Did the judge just give the result but withhold the reasons? Maybe we shall ever know, but the IPKat is certain of one thing: any note of a judicial decision that gives the result but doesn't explain its basis is unlikely to worth anything to anyone.

Buggles here
Huggles here
Muggles here
Puggles here
Ruggles here
Snuggles here
Wuggles here

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