Intellectual property

Card's author : Outils-réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : Beware: this article is about IP in the French legal system. Even if some concepts are transposable in other countries's legal system, they only apply within the french legal system.
Intellectual property is a set of exclusive rights given to intellectual creations. It is composed of two branches:
  • Industrial property which gathers utilitarian creations (patents) and distinctive signs (trade mark, label of origin)
  • Literary and artistic property which applies to works of the mind and include copyright and neighbouring rights (Performers' rights of the singer and musicians).

Industrial property

Three modes of protection:
  • patents
  • trademarks
  • design and models
To be protected, patents trademarks, design ans models :
  • must not have been disclosed previously,
  • be the topic of a procedure of deposit with the INPI (French Patent Office)
  • protection lasts for 20 years, subject to the payment of preservation rights
Patented technologies or trademarks can be used subject to the payment of a licence to the legal claimants.

Literary and artistic property

  • copyrights: protection of any kind of work of mind (text, music, théâtre, graphic work, map...). The work's title is also protected, subject to its originality
  • neighbouring rights: related to performers and producers (musicians or singer performing a work that he has not created, record producer).
  • date bases: lists or collections of organized data. The base of the structure is protected.
In other words, a work is protected by the law in France (and the US) only because of its existence. The copyright applies to the work without the need for its author to do anything.

Nature of the work

  • The work is considered created independently of any public disclosure, only because of its realization, even unachieved, of the author's conception. (Extract of the French Code of Intellectual Property)

  • the author must be able to prove the authenticity of his creation ton ensure its protection (# usurpation). That's why the deposit of the work with the recognized authority allows to strengthen the protection of the work (beyond the basic legal protection) by enabling the creation's authenticity.
  • a work must be a print of the author's character. So the copyright does not apply to the inventory of objective data: naturalistic descriptions, data, bibliography,...
  • a work must demonstrate originality (# plagiarism)
  • ideas, principles, concepts are not protected by copyright (for example E=mc²)

Examples: books, theatrical work, conferences, musical compositions, films, paintings, drawings, photographies, illustrations, geographical maps, plans, sketches, software (under some conditions), etc.


Copyrights are a set of exclusive prerogatives that an author has on his original work.

To go further on the subject, a detailed slideshow describing all facets of the copyright:
Michèle Battisti: Droit d'auteur et enseignement supérieur

Collective works

The article L 113.2 from the French Code of Intellectual Property recognizes three types of collective works:
  • Is said collaborative the work resulting from the contribution of several physical persons. Each contribution can be identified. For example: compilation work.
  • Is said composite the new work to which is incorporated a pre-existing work without the contribution of the former author. Example: translation
  • Is said collective the work created from the initiative of a physical or legal entity which edits and discloses it under his name and direction and in which the personal contribution of the various participants merges altogether purposely, without the possibility to award to each contributor a special right on the work done. Example: work published by an association.

Copyright's holders (Articles L 113.3, 4 and 5 of the French Code of Intellectual Property)
  • The work of collaboration is the shared property between co-authors
  • The composite work is the property of the author who created it, subject to the copyrights of the pre-existing work
  • The collective work is, unless proved otherwise, the property of the legal or physical person under whose name it is disclosed

External resources