In conjunction with our Real Estate division, the Herbert Smith Freehills London IP group has published a guide to the intellectual property issues that can arise in relation to real estate.

It can be the case that sites or buildings are purchased without necessarily considering fully whether the underlying intellectual property assets are being transferred and what future access or control the new owner may need, or the vendor wish to retain.

Key areas may include access to and rights to copy and use plans, or any marketing materials showing layouts or photographs of the property which the purchaser may wish to reuse. The control of the website for the building including the domain name should be considered, as well as more obvious things like the branding of the building or use of the name under which it was previously known. Social media accounts and any apps connected to the property will also need to be assessed and control gained when ownership of the real estate is transferred.

Here are a few questions those involved should be asking:

  • Does your property have a distinctive name or logo?
  • Is there a website or an app associated with your property?
  • Is there content on that website or app that the new owner would like to reuse or control?
  • Are there social media accounts that specifically relate to the property? Do these need to be transferred or deactivated?
  • Are there architectural plans that might be needed for redevelopment or planning applications?
  • Are there marketing materials which might be needed by the new owner?

Read our Real Estate Guide to IP for answers to these and many other intellectual property issues that can arise in relation to real estate.

For more on copyright in architect’s drawings and plans – listen to our podcast on the topic here.

For more on IP in Apps – see our Practice Note on Apps published by Practical Law, available here.


Laura Deacon

Laura Deacon
Of Counsel, IP, London
+44 20 7466 2045

Rachel Montagnon

Rachel Montagnon
Professional Support Consultant, IP, London
+44 20 7466 2217

Joanna Silver

Joanna Silver
Senior Associate, IP, London
+44 20 7466 2315

Joel Smith

Joel Smith
Partner, IP, London
+44 20 7466 2331

Kathryn Oie

Kathryn Oie
Of Counsel, Real Estate, London
+44 20 7466 3897