Ordnance Survey – Great Britain's national mapping agency

News release


Romsey Road
United Kingdom, SO16 4GU

05 March 2001

Centrica and Ordnance Survey settle AA copyright case

Joint statement by Centrica and Ordnance Survey

Centrica and Ordnance Survey have reached agreement to resolve a long-running copyright action against the Automobile Association, now owned by Centrica, for the use of the national mapping agency's maps.

Centrica and Ordnance Survey have reached agreement to resolve a long-running copyright action against the Automobile Association, now owned by Centrica, for the use of the national mapping agency's maps.

The out of court settlement is for a payment of £20 million over two years and an agreement to become a licensee, so allowing the use of Ordnance Survey source material in future publishing and information activities. The payment covers backdated royalty payments, interest on these amounts, Ordnance Survey's costs and an advance on the coming year's royalties.

Centrica has accepted that the AA used Ordnance Survey originals as source material to create its own maps, and used these in its own publications and in others it prepared for other publishers. In all, more than 500 publications were involved, with more than 300 million individual copies printed.

After a long period trying to resolve the matter prior to legal action, Ordnance Survey started proceedings against the AA in December 1996. In the summer of 1999, the AA paid £875,000 to Ordnance Survey in backdated royalties in part settlement of the case after admitting a number of its town plans had been based on Ordnance Survey source material as a result of what the AA described as "an error".

Ordnance Survey's Director General and Chief Executive, Vanessa Lawrence, commented: "With this matter now behind us, we're looking forward to working with Centrica in the future.

"Ordnance Survey mapping is the most detailed and comprehensive in Great Britain, and a large number of publishers choose to use it as the basis of their own mapping products. In defending our intellectual property rights, we also defend the thousands of businesses who are licensed to reproduce our material. We use the income this generates to help cover the costs of keeping our maps and digital data up to date. We will now consider the best ways of investing this money back into the infrastructure of Ordnance Survey for the benefit of our customers."

Centrica's Director of Information Services, Matthew Thompson explained that the company had been aware of the position at the time of the acquisition of the AA in September 1999. He said: "We're pleased to have brought this long and complicated matter to a close and look forward to working with Ordnance Survey in the future."

"Centrica believes that this was not a case of deliberate wholesale copying. The AA had genuinely sought to create an independently derived mapping database and had made substantial investment in order to do so. However, it is clear from our investigations that the AA's processes were not as robust as they should have been. Centrica is very concerned that such a situation could have arisen, and is now confident that it could not happen in the future."

Ordnance Survey encourages businesses who want to use its mapping to check out its web site for information on how to get licensed. The address is www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk.

Notes for Editor

1. Centrica plc is a leading supplier of energy and services at home and on the road, trading under the AA, British Gas, Scottish Gas and Goldfish brands. The AA was acquired by Centrica on 16th September 1999 for £1.1billion, which included net cash and cash equivalents of approximately £306million.

2. Ordnance Survey is Britain's national mapping agency, a public-sector Trading Fund producing, maintaining and marketing a wide range of maps and digital map data for business, leisure, educational and administrative use. In the 1999-2000 financial year it recorded a profit on its trading account of £12.7 million.

3. For further information please contact: Ordnance Survey Press Office on 023 8079 2635 or 023 8079 2251 Centrica Media Relations on 01753 758445

Chief Press Officer - Scott Sinclair
Email: scott.sinclair@ordnancesurvey.co.uk
Phone: (+44) 023 8079 2265
Senior Press Officer - Kate Kemp
Email: kate.kemp@ordnancesurvey.co.uk
Phone: (+44) 023 8079 2977
Press Officer - Paula Good
Email: paula.good@ordnancesurvey.co.uk
Phone: (+44) 023 8079 2635
Press Officer - Paul Beauchamp
Email: paul.beauchamp@ordnancesurvey.co.uk
Phone: (+44) 023 8079 2568
Press Office Co-ordinator - Pauline Hand
Email: pauline.hand@ordnancesurvey.co.uk
Phone: (+44) 023 8079 2251

Press Office fax: (+44) 023 8030 5295

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