This BBC article, Grenfell Tower: Sixty blocks 'fail new fire test', says,

Local Government Association chairman Lord Porter said housing associations and private sector landlords will be among those that own the 60 tower blocks which failed the new fire test.

He added that intellectual property rights on the installation of cladding systems means the identification of tower blocks affected by fire safety issues may not be made public.

That doesn't sound plausible to me -- I would have expected that information about fire safety (expecially about which buildings are unsafe) would in the public interest, and published.

Assuming it's true, how is it possible? Have those who own the "intellectual property rights on the installation of cladding systems" in question, obtained some court injunction against publication? Is it the building owners/operators, rather than the cladding manufacturer? Is it standard procedure to not publish such information, or is it the following some specific application to a court, to prevent publication?

2 Answers 2


Important story, but BoingBoing also doubts the BBC's wording.

It could be an attempted summary of a previous story on BBC Newsnight on 18 July:

Lord Porter of Spalding, a former bricklayer, alleged corporations were running tests on the safety of their high-rise building materials but refusing to share the results.

Releasing the results could allow residents and local authorities to know if their buildings are at risk of a fire following the Grenfell catastrophe which claimed the lives of at least 80 people.

There Lord Porter was talking about results commissioned by private companies including manufacturers, where the labs wouldn't provide information because of 'intellectual property rights' of the client, or presumably commercial confidentiality. Under these situations, it is said the private concerns have no obligation to disclose.

If this is what the BBC story was referring to, then at least investigations by government or third parties wanting to reveal characteristics of the products wouldn't have a copyright (or patent etc) problem.

  • Tests are frequently done with the copyright held by the test house. You can get it done cheaper that way -- you have to pay more to get a certified result that you can release. This because certification is actually the expensive part of test house costs, and they are willing to use the test equipment for non-certified testing. (Don't know the specifics of fire testing, I do know about buying non-certified results)
    – david
    Nov 19, 2023 at 9:19
  • Thanks for the info. I'd assumed (from the reporting) that the client would contractually hold the copyright. All the same, is there copyright in simple knowledge of failure or success?. Peter Apps in Show Me the Bodies includes much about practicalities of testing around Grenfell. Dec 4, 2023 at 20:02

The cladding manufacturers readily admit that the materials are unfit for use on buildings over 35 feet high, easily putting the blame elsewhere. As for "intellectual property rights", that could include "trade secrets" regarding performance (or non-performance) during various privately arranged tests. Like any other facts, the results of such tests would not be subject to copyright, but the owners may certainly try to restrict distribution of their embarrassing trade secrets.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .