Music star Ed Sheeran values the ‘shape’ of Intellectual Property and Copyright protections

Thu 7th Apr 2022

Ed Sheeran, one of the UK’s most famous singer-songwriters, has won a High Court case over his 2017 hit ‘Shape of You’ – Phoebe Gilbert of Coodes Commercial Disputes team highlights the value of protecting your Intellectual Property (IP) and Copyright.

With tens of thousands of songs being released every day and millions each year, Ed Sheeran claims there are only so many notes and a few chords to use in pop music, so ‘coincidence is bound to happen.’ However, a High Court judge has ruled that the musician had not plagiarised a 2015 song by artist Sami Chokri. It had been claimed that a hook in his 2017 hit ‘Shape of You’ was ‘strikingly similar’ to a song by Sami Chokri called ‘Oh Why’.

Whilst there have been several high-profile cases involving famous musicians, this ruling has highlighted the value of intellectual property (IP) and copyright protections. It demonstrates the complexity of copyright considerations in relation to musical works. Proving that the copying of music is incredibly complex, in this instance, forensic musicologists were used to determine the minutiae of the technical points.

What does Intellectual Property include?

Intellectual property includes copyright, trademark, design, patent and trade secret protection. Copyright covers the rights relating to literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, including sound recordings, films and typographical arrangements. Ownership of intellectual property rights depends on the respective requirements for each category, but in most cases refers to the author or inventor.

Issues can arise if the IP was created whilst being employed by someone else. In this case, it is generally accepted that your employer will own any work you create whilst being employed by them. The employer may be considered the IP owner where the work was created in the course of their employment unless there is a specific agreement to the contrary.

What options do I have to protect against a breach?

So, what protections do businesses and individuals have if they suspect their intellectual property rights have been breached?

There are a wide range of options available, depending on the type of intellectual property right being breached. A breach is usually considered to have happened when your IP has been copied, used or exploited without your consent.

The first stage is to send a letter asking the suspect to stop the infringement. Other options may include an injunction to stop the breach continuing or specific damages claim as a result of the breach. These disputes can affect all types of businesses at one time or another, they can be complex, difficult to prove and be both costly and time-consuming.

For more information or advice on Intellectual Property or Copyright Infringement disputes, please contact Phoebe Gilbert on 01872 246242 or

Thu 7th Apr 2022

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