A London Assembly committee has discovered that, despite pouring hundreds of millions of pounds into its development and design, taxpayers do not own the rights to the Mayor’s “iconic” New Routemaster.
The bus was developed following Boris Johnson 2008 manifesto commitment to introduce a new purpose-built bus for London.
Transport for London appointed designer Thomas Heatherwick to work on the design which includes the re-introduction of a curved rear end and rear platform.
When the design was unveiled in May 2010, TfL announced it had “applied to the Intellectual Property Office for Registered Design Protection for the new exterior”.
However information collated by the Assembly’s Budget and Performance committee has revealed that intellectual property rights for the bus remain with Wrightbus until TfL has ordered 1,000 vehicles from it. Only then will TfL enjoy “the full unrestricted licence to have the buses developed, altered and manufactured by third parties.”
On Wednesday Leon Daniels, head of surface transport at the agency, told Assembly members there were no plans to increase orders beyond the 800 already purchased.
Unless a future Mayor orders the purchase of more of the vehicles, this suggests taxpayers will never fully own the design which they have spent so much money developing and promoting.