The Paris Court of Appeal recognizes the validity of a clause transferring copyright of an assignment clause in an employment contract.
Article L.131-1 of the French Intellectual Property Code is very clear: « the global assignment of future works is null and void ».
According to this provision, any clause by which an author assigns, in a global way, his or her rights on creative works that have not been created yet is legally null and void, even if it concerns creative works in the context of an employment contract.
Nevertheless, in its decision of 25 January 2023, the Paris Court of Appeal has recognized the validity of a clause in an employment contract, which provided for the assignment, to the employer, of creations made under the contract ” progressively as they are completed “.
According to the Court of Appeal, this clause is valid insofar as it delimits the area of assignment of the creation in a determinable and individualizable way, as the prohibition on the assignment of future creative works only covers global assignments.
A clause providing for the assignment of creative works to the employer progressively as they are completed does not constitute an overall assignment, since it does not concern future creations produced as the employment contract is in progress.
This pragmatic decision by the Paris Court of Appeal is not new, as previous case law has already validated this type of clause providing for the automatic transfer of copyright progressively with the production of creations. Indeed, in an earlier decision in 1991, the Court of Appeal had already judged that “the provision for an automatic cession of literary and artistic property rights as and when work is carried out does not constitute a global cession of future works” (Lyon Court of Appeal, decision of 28 November 1991, Gaz. Pal, 15/16 April 1992).
The drafting of copyright cession clauses is complex and subtle. To avoid any pitfalls, we recommend you to contact the LAVOIX legal experts.