Professional secrecy of the IPCs


Industrial property attorney (IPC) is bound by absolute professional secrecy.

Indeed the article L422-11 CPI provides:

In all matters and for all the services mentioned in article L. 422-1, industrial property attorney observes professional secrecy. This secrecy extends to consultations addressed or intended for his client, to professional correspondence exchanged with his client, a colleague or a lawyer, to interview notes and, more generally, to all the documents in the file.

Consequently (and this is quite normal), the IPA cannot divulge any information relating to his consultations, to the information entrusted to him by his client, etc.

Extension of professional secrecy

However, the CPI is not the only one to be affected by his professional secrecy

Vis-à-vis lawyers / colleagues

In a judgment of the Paris Court of Appeal, Pole 1, Room 3, November 24, 2015, RG n ° 14/16359, the professional secrecy attached to correspondence with a lawyer was recalled.

In this case, a letter exchanged between an IPC and a lawyer was excluded from the proceedings on the grounds that this letter was covered by professional secrecy.

Towards a bailiff?

In a judgment of the Paris Court of Appeal, Pole 5, Room 2, November 18, 2016, RG n ° 14/16970, the judges nevertheless considered that the bailiff was not bound by professional secrecy and could therefore enter correspondence between an IPA and his client.

This analysis by the court of appeal is surprising because professional secrecy is attached here to the document itself, by letter of the law (L422-11 CPI). Thus, even if the bailiff is not covered by the industrial property code, the judges should simply have found (in my opinion) that the document was confidential and excluded it from the proceedings.

Towards his client?

The question may arise if the IPA acquires sensitive information during a seizure operation, expertise from a third party, etc.

The judgment of the Paris Court of Appeal, Pole 1, 5th ch., October 25, 2018, RG n ° 2018/15706  recalls that in these circumstances, the IPA remains subject to secrecy and cannot disclose confidential information even to his client.

Is the client bound to secrecy?

The client of the industrial property attorney is nevertheless master of lifting (himself) the professional secrecy attached to the various documents produced by his attorney.

He can thus transmit any document to a third party without difficulty (even produced by his counsel).

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