Lexicon > Soleau envelope

IP Lexicon

Soleau envelope

In French law, article R.511-6 of the french Intellectual Property Code provides that “the following rules apply In order to complete the evidence obtained from the above-mentioned registers, the interested parties shall be authorized to draw up two identical copies of the designs for which they wish to secure the date of priority of creation and to send both copies to the National Institute of Industrial Property, which, after recording and punching the date of arrival, shall return one of them to the sender and place the other in its archives (…)“.

In France, the Soleau envelope is a simple and inexpensive system of proof, proposed by the INPI, which makes it possible to date achievements as well as projects and to identify their author, while keeping the secret by not disclosing them to the public.

These achievements or projects may include: an invention, a concept, a technical solution, a manufacturing process or method, an artistic idea or creation, etc.

This envelope makes it possible to determine in a certain way the nature and the contents of the information, their holder and a certain date.

It can therefore be used in various contexts, notably in the field of art (paintings, sculptures, designs, digital work), design (technical processes), or even in the field of catering (recipes).

Today, it is also possible to use the e-Soleau service, which is completely dematerialized.

How does it work?

Any person, alone or accompanied by others, who wants to constitute a proof of creation or project while keeping the secret, can order a Soleau envelope for the sum of 15€ on the site of the INPI.

There are even e-Soleau which are digital Soleau envelopes.

It is recommended to deposit the Soleau envelope as soon as the creation is made, in order to have the “oldest” date possible, but it can also be deposited at any time.

This envelope has two compartments, each of which must contain an identical copy of the creation or project, in the form of descriptions or two-dimensional reproductions only

Indeed, in order not to interfere with the perforation of the envelope by the INPI, it must not contain hard bodies such as a CD or plastic.

The Envelope submitter will therefore have to ensure that the media transmitted complies with the Office’s requirements.

When the INPI receives the envelope, it is registered, then one of the two compartments is returned to the applicant while the Office keeps the second one for five years, a period which is renewable once.

In the event of a dispute, it is the comparison of the contents of the two compartments of the Soleau envelope that will allow the authentication of the documents and the information contained therein.

What limits?

The Soleau envelope is very useful in that it makes it possible to give a certain date to a creation, however, it does not grant any title to intellectual property, unlike a patent, a trademark or a design or model which benefit from a stronger legal protection through a registration with the competent Office.

This tool is particularly useful for authors and performers who do not have any intellectual property rights and wish to make exclusive use of their project.

Although the French law seems to grant a privilege to authors of intellectual works by sparing them from restrictive filing formalities in order to benefit from a protection on their works, they must however manage to prove the originality of their creations as well as the date of creation if they wish to benefit from an effective protection.

Furthermore, although any project can be mentioned in an envelope, this does not mean that this means of proof will be sufficient to win a case in the event of litigation.

Indeed, although the Soleau envelope is a relatively simple and inexpensive system of proof, unlike a procedure requiring the intervention of a bailiff, it does not have the same probative force in case of litigation.

For example, in the context of an action for copyright infringement (in the case of copying, reproduction, distribution, use of the work by a third party without prior authorization from the author), the plaintiff must demonstrate that his project is original.

However, if the envelope does not allow the essential characteristic elements of the work to be mentioned, and simply mentions an idea, which cannot be appropriated, the owner of the Soleau envelope will not be able to use it in court to defend his interests.

Copyright Update

Paragraph1 of article L.111-1 of the french Intellectual Property Code states that “The author of a work of the mind enjoys an exclusive intangible property right on this work, by the sole fact of its creation, which is enforceable against all. “

Case law focus

In a dispute relating to a jewelry counterfeit, the plaintiff company invoked the anteriority of its rights on the disputed models, by providing the Soleau envelope which contained all the information relating to the jewelry.

However, the judges considered that this means of proof was insufficient in itself because it did not allow to characterize the disclosure and the marketing of the jewels by the company.

Indeed, ” if the models in question were the subject of a deposit under a SOLEAU envelope, such a circumstance is not such as to justify that they were disclosed, in particular by means of marketing acts, under the name of the company (…) “. (Paris Court of Appeal, February 20, 2013, No. 2011-06.089)

The Bouchara firm assists you in particular in :

  • The registration of your works (literary, artistic, digital etc. …), trademarks and designs;
  • The protection and defense of your economic and moral rights on your creations;
  • Contracts relating to your works (exploitation contracts, transfer of copyright, copyright license etc. …);
  • Protection and defense of your intellectual property rights.