The i-Envelope is a legal means of proof that issues a date stamp for your idea or creation. It allows you to prove that your idea or creation already existed on a certain date. The date stamp issued by BIP SXM can be compared to the date stamp of the tax inspectorate or a notarial deed. You can use your i-Envelope to record your idea, concept, song, invention or movie script and more.
Having an i-Envelope recorded at BIP SXM may be quite useful:
if somebody else claims the creation is his or hers, your i-Envelope will allow you to disprove that claim. Having recorded evidence of your authorship at BIP SXM can be extremely essential in the event of a (legal) dispute.
The date stamp serves as a legal means of proof. However, the i-Envelope itself does not provide (intellectual property) rights or legal protection. The rights on a creation exist by law.
(Also read: What is Copyright?)
How to submit an i-Envelope?
You can receive and submit your i-Envelope at BIP SXM by visiting our office. The i-Envelope will be handed to you once we have received your payment via Wire transfer. The banking information will be handed or e-mailed to you upon request.
The i-Envelope consists of two compartments. In each compartment, place an identical document (by means of paper, CD, USB-stick or other means) that describes your idea or creation as clearly as possible. Then return both compartments to BIP SXM. At BIP SXM your i-Envelope will be dated upon receipt. Both compartments will receive a seal and date stamp. One compartment will be returned to you, and the other will be stored in our archive. You have a one-time only right to ask us to produce this second (certified) compartment as a means of evidence, for example, in the case of a dispute.
Note that a fee of Naf 100,- is involved when requesting this certified copy.
The fee for an i-Envelope is Naf 200,- for a period of ten years. As per the request of the i-Envelope holder a certified copy may be issued by the Bureau for an additional fee of Naf 100,-
You can submit your i-Envelope at BIP SXM by visiting our office. The i-Envelope will be issued to you once we have received your payment via wire transfer.
Please note that the following bank account is only used for the payment of the i-Envelope. For other services of BIP SXM please use the bank account in the following link.
Bank account information:
Bureau Intellectueel Eigendom
The Windward Islands Bank ltd.
Naf account: 00810.526.10
Swift (BIC) Wire Transfer Code: WISBSXSM
Renew your i-Envelope
The standard storage period of an i-Envelope is 10 years. Shortly before the expiry date, you will receive a reminder to extend the storage period by 10 years. You can do this by an unlimited number of 10 years as long as you have not requested the second copy from our archives. Each renewal requires payment of the i-Envelope fee.
Please ensure that your contact information is up to date at BIP SXM
What to submit in an i-Envelope?
You can use your i-Envelope to record an assortment of items.
- an idea;
- a concept;
- a brochure;
- a format;
- an agreement;
- a document;
- a model;
- an invention;
- a process;
- a design;
- a photograph;
- a painting;
- a song;
- a movie script;
- a drawing;
- a slogan or a catchphrase;
- and more;
You may visit our office, where one of our staff members can advise you if you are not sure if your idea or creation could or should be saved in an i-Envelope. BIP SXM will observe strict confidentiality with regard to your i-Envelope.
When do you use an i-Envelope?
Abstract ideas, such as the idea of a website for affordable short term (vacation) accommodations, cannot be protected but the concrete result of such an idea sometimes can. If you wait until your idea or creation is fully worked out, implemented or fulfilled you may lose the ability to claim that you were first. An i-Envelope can be a useful tool to provide evidence in case of a conflict or dispute because it allows you to prove that your idea or creation already existed on a certain date.
Be aware that having recorded your idea in an i-Envelope, does not mean that you hold an exclusive right or monopoly to that idea.
Recording your idea or creation in an i-Envelope is recommended by BIP SXM in a number of situations:
Does your intellectual property right require a formal registration?
One of the simplest forms of intellectual property yet most difficult to explain is copyright. Copyright arises automatically by law without the need to register. For most people this is an unusual right because Copyright arises at the moment you have created something. If your creation is distinct and original and has your own personal touch, it is covered by copyright. According to the Copyright Ordinance your work has to be original. The extent to which your creation or work is considered original depends on the moment at which it came into existence and whether similar creations or works existed at that time. This means that in order to be able to assess the degree of the originality, it is important to know exactly when the item concerned was invented or designed. This is the evidence that the i-Envelope provides.
Do you need your idea to remain a secret?
A patent right is an exclusive right to a technical or other type of invention. This right enables you to prevent others from marketing your invention. A patent right other than copyright requires a formal registration of your invention through a patent application. However, you may choose not to apply for a patent and keep your invention secret for as long as possible. If the cost of the patent is relatively high in comparison to the expected revenues than financially there is no real gain. If the life-cycle of your product is so short, for example with clothing, then you may decide that the time it takes to complete the application process of the patent is not worth it. If you are left with your invention or creation and still would like to prove that you are the author or designer than you can record your invention or creation in an i-Envelope.
An i-Envelope ensures confidentiality for your invention, and at the same time it allows you to prove, if necessary, that the invention is yours.
If your former (business) partner were to apply for a patent for your invention, the i-Envelope would enable you to prove that the invention already existed and is actually yours.
Is your idea still in the development stage?
You may want to register a design or patent however you are not ready to do so because your design or invention is not finalized or does not yet satisfy all the conditions to register. In this case you can put your ideas for your design or invention in an i-Envelope which you can use as evidence. This is a useful tool when your design or invention is in the early development stage but already has acquired a distinct style. By recording your idea in the development stage, in an i-Envelope, you will be able to demonstrate, if necessary, that the idea is yours.
If you wish to apply for a patent or design right when your idea has passed the development stage you must ensure to keep the contents of your i-Envelope strictly confidential. You can’t publish your design or invention until you have filed a valid application for a design or patent right. If you publish your design or invention before a design or patent right is requested you may lose the option to protect it.
Are you still negotiating with potential partners?
Negotiating with potential partners can be a challenge, especially when you are creative and fear that giving too much detail will allow the other party to use your creativity without recognition or (financial) profit for yourself. This is no longer an issue, with the i-Envelope you can register your ideas and use your i-Envelope number in a confidentiality agreement. If your potential partner published your idea, you will be able to demonstrate that the confidentiality agreement has been violated. The i-Envelope can be an important first step in your innovation process, for example in the preliminary phase of an application for a design or patent. However, be aware that the i-Envelope does not create in itself an intellectual property right. This means that you will still have to seek legal protection after the design phase. For this reason we advise you to consult an intellectual property expert to discuss your options.
Who can file an i-Envelope?
Anyone can file an i-Envelope at BIP SXM.
You can be an artist, a writer, a musician, a software developer, a poet, an inventor, a professional, a graphic designer, an architect, a cartoonist, a choreographer, a cinematographer, a fashion designer, a screenwriter and the list goes on.
Whatever your art form, it is important for you to be able to prove that you came up with the idea. The i-Envelope is an excellent, affordable, reliable, fast and easy method for recording your idea(s). However, be aware that the i-Envelope in itself does not offer any intellectual property right. It can serve as evidence in and out of court in the event of a dispute between potential partners or even strangers.