Architecture & design: architectural plans and drawings can be protected by copyright when they are drawn up by a project manager and not a DPLG architect, subject to originality


In a recent decision of January 21, 2021, the Rennes Court of Appeals (France) ruled in a litigation opposing two project managers over the construction plans for a single-family home. What about copyright protection?

Can the architectural plans of a single-family house drawn up by a project manager could be protected by copyright? The Rennes Court of Appeal answers in the affirmative  throughArticle L112-1 of the French Intellectual Property Code.

In 2015, a couple launched their project to build a single-family home and called upon the services of a project manager. The latter presented them with a contract of project management that they refused to sign. They then called upon a new company with whom they contracted and obtained their building permit in early January 2016.

The first project manager said “the project owners had used the last project that she had proposed to them. ».

In the first instance, the latter’s claims were dismissed, in particular on the grounds of infringement of the architectural plans and sketches that it had provided in 2015.

The Court of Appeals then affirmed that “it follows that architectural plans and sketches, even if they are drawn up by a project manager and not by an architect, are likely to benefit from the protection granted by Article L.111-1 as long as they are original, in other words, if they demonstrate a creative intellectual contribution that means the imprint of the personality of its author, who must provide proof of this. ».

However, “the plans in question, like the 3D views, consisting of the assembly of several structures in the form of parallelepipeds, of different heights, covered with flat roofs, equipped with bay windows or openings in bands, do not differ obviously in the external aspect of the work from those usually proposed by the project managers for constructions carried out within housing estates”.

In the absence of sufficient originality in its architectural plans and sketches, the Court of Appeal rejected the project manager on the grounds that “the plans drawn up by the company (…) do not include any precise indication relating to the choice of materials or colors applied to the exterior of the building, which, in compliance with the town planning rules and specifications, reflect an original and singular assembly, significant of the personality of its author. ».

Our UGGC Law Firm and its team of lawyers specialized in copyright law are at your disposal to assist you in the protection of your legal and economic interests.

By the IP/IT team of the UGGC Law Firm

Source: CA RENNES, 4th ch. January 21, 2021, n°18/06044

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