Although they do not provide any legal protection, Soleau envelopes, named after their inventor, are a low-cost way of ascertaining the date of one’s creations in France.
Until now, creations were to be carefully described in two identical copies each of them respectively placed in both compartments of a Soleau envelope. Once it was sealed and registered before the INPI (French PTO) through a once-patented process, one compartment was given to the applicant whereas the second compartment was kept by the INPI for a five-year period (renewable once up to a ten-year period).
Committed to developing electronic transmissions and procedures, the Office had been trying to develop an electronic filing system for Soleau envelopes for several years.
e-Soleau was officially launched by the INPI last December.
The legal framework has not changed. Filed documents are registered and kept for 5 years with the Office and for 5 years more if requested.
In practice however, new technologies allow the filing of digital files (up to 3 files of 100Mo each) in various formats (pdf, zip, xml, txt, csv, mp3, mp4, gif, png, jpeg, tiff, mpeg, dv, etc.), the registering fee depending on the total volume of files.
This new electronic service is welcome of course but it is not useless to remind that Soleau envelopes, even electronic Soleau envelopes, do not provide any legal protection. It is not an equivalent or an alternative to IP rights such as trademarks, designs or patents that can only be obtained through filing and registration.
Soleau envelopes can only be used to give a certain date to one’s creation(s), which can prove interesting for copyright matters for example.
If in doubt about which protection better suits your creations or which strategy to implement to protect your creations, feel free to ask INSCRIPTA.