In a move aimed at clarifying ambiguity under French law, a Paris court recently rejected a designer’s claims against his former employer, ultra-lux jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels, that he was the true owner of the intellectual property behind numerous designs created for the company during his employment.
As reported by Women’s Wear Daily, the Court of Appeals in Paris ruled that “designs made by an employee of a jewelry firm should be considered a simple contribution to collective marks owned by the company, rather than the intellectual property of the individual designer.”
The decision brings French law closer in line with other jurisdictions, including the United States, that provide employers with intellectual property rights to works for hire made by their employees within the scope of their employment.
Of course, the best course of action for an employer to protect itself is to include a carefully crafted provision in its employment agreement and employee manual, explicitly setting forth the parties respective rights and obligations with respect to intellectual property created by its employees. Crafting effective provisions for your employees requires taking into account particular limitations of the law of the employer’s jurisdiction, as well as the desired scope of the assignment.