Who owns the design rights for the Boris bus?

Included in Boris Johnson’s 2008 manifesto was the commitment to introduce a new bus specifically built for London. The environmentally friendly hybrid bus is similar to the original Routemaster bus design, featuring a “hop-on hop-off” rear platform, however is updated to accommodate the requirement that modern buses be fully accessible. The bus was designed by Heatherwick Studio and manufactured by Wrightbus.

The new design was unveiled in 2010, Transport for London applied to the Intellectual Property Office for Registered Design Protection for the new exterior.

However, information from the Assembly’s Budget and Performance committee has disclosed that the intellectual property rights for the bus remain with Wrightbus. Only when Transport for London has ordered 1,000 vehicles will they be able to enjoy the full unrestricted licence to have the buses, altered and manufactured by third parties.

Leon Daniels, head of surface transport at Transport for London, told Assembly members on Wednesday that there are no plans to order any more new busses from the 800 that have already been purchased at the cost of £250 million.

It is possible to come to the conclusion that, unless a future Mayor orders 200 new buses, taxpayers will not fully own the intellectual property rights that are found in the bus that they have spent money developing.

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