FRENCH COURT CONFIRMS THAT JEWELRY DESIGNS BELONG TO THE LUXURY HOUSE AND NOT TO THE DESIGNER


The Court of Appeals in Paris ruled in favor of the luxury jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels and declared that designs made by an employee of a jewelry firm should be considered a simple contribution to collective works owned by the company, rather than the intellectual property of the individual designer, reported WWD. 

Van Cleef & Arpels Frivole pendant

The ruling was delivered last Friday, September 14th, and in addition to recognize the concept of collective works, it also sentenced plaintiff Thierry Berthelot (former designer at VCP) to damages of €10,000 for withholding his drawings (more than 500) during the seven years of the dispute. Berthlot claims that his creative process was performed independently of any instructions or supervision from his employer and that he was the designer of the brand’s Frivole collection, among others.

In France, intellectual property rights on works created collectively belong, from their conception, to the person or employer who initiates the creation, supervises the creative process and then presents the creation to the public.

According to Prof. Susan Scafidi, from Fordham School of Law, NYC, the ruling was indeed a "clarification of what was a grey area" and she notes that it applies solely to full-time employees of fashion houses. 




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