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Paris 1st Instance Court - Miss Emmanuelle VILLANEAU v/ AGENCE P

Decision date

2015-03-27

Decision No.

RG 13/09620

Nature

Copyright

Country

France

Jurisdiction

Paris First Instance Court

Parties

Miss Emmanuelle VILLANEAU v/ AGENCE P.

Miss Emmanuelle Villaneau was represented by Caroline Casalonga, Attorney at Law, assisted by Pascaline Vincent, Attorney at Law.

In this case, our client, Ms Emmanuelle Villaneau, interior architect, had designed the visual identity of the real estate agency Agence P. including trade name, logotype, monograms and design of the front of the agency.

Ms. Villaneau discovered that the Agence P. has been using her creations on Internet and on magazine, for more than five years, without authorization, nor payment of her rights, nor mention of her name. She sent an invoice to the real estate agency, requesting the payment of 20,500 euros (VAT excluded) corresponding to the conception of the visual identity and the assignment of her intellectual property rights.

Agence P. refused to pay the invoice.

Ms. Villaneau then brought an infringement action before the Paris Court of First Instance against Agence P.

Agence P. first challenged the protection of logos, monograms and design of the front of the agency by French droit d’auteur (“copyright”). As an alternative, the defendant argued that Ms. Villaneau had tacitly assigned her intellectual property rights on the basis of the friendly relationships of the parties. The defendant counterclaimed to the Court to prohibit Ms Emmanuelle Villaneau to reproduce her work on her website and professional book.

In its decision of 27 March 2015, the Paris Court of First Instance:

  • - Confirmed that the logo and the monogram of Agence P. resulted from a true creative work involving intellectual input and expression of free and creative choices of Ms. Villaneau, were protectable under copyright. However, the Court refused to protect the design of the front of the agency under copyright, considering that it was only a stylized representation without modification.
  • - Considered that there was no tacit assignment of intellectual property rights on the works of Ms. Villaneau, whatever the friendly relationships of the parties;
  • - Held that Agence P. committed infringement acts in using and reproducing the works of our client without rights and infringed her moral rights by not mentioning her name on its website.

Therefore, the Court prohibited Agence P. to use and reproduce the logo and the monogram and to destroy all existing infringing media, six months after the judgment and ordered Agence P. to pay to Ms. Villaneau 6,000 euros as damages and 4,000 euros as reimbursement of legal costs.