French Industrial property

(trade marks, patents and designs)


As a second step in Intellectual Property Law, Industrial property Law protects objects intended for exploitation in an industry. It combines intangible titles which have the common characteristic of existing through a mandatory formality: filing with a specialized office. These are the trademarks, patents and designs.

According to the French Code of Intellectual Property, a trademark is a sign capable of graphic representation distinguishing the goods or services of a natural or legal person. Subject to availability, who wants to create his brand can reserve the monopoly of a sign to designate its products. But it is not possible to reserve a sign that would be the necessary designation of the product or service. Where the applicant obtains registration of the sign as a trademark, the trademark is then protected for a period of ten years indefinitely renewable.

The invention patent is an industrial property right conferring on its holder a monopoly on exploitation of an invention for a non-renewable period of twenty years. Designs are the titles that protect the appearance of a product, a form of protection particularly adapted to objects such as clothes, a bottle or the body of a car. The applicant shall obtain protection for a period of five years, which may be extended to a maximum of twenty-five years.

Before considering the filing of a trademark or patent, it would be in the interest of the applicant to seek advice in order to obtain the registration sought and to benefit from a title which would enable him to exploit his products without infringing the rights of third parties. Moreover, the holders of these rights have an action for damages where a third party copies their trademark or exploits their invention without authorization: the action for infringement. It allows them to apply to the courts for the cessation of acts of infringement and for compensation for the damage suffered by such unauthorized exploitation. Only certain courts of higher courts are now competent to deal with them, as with all cases concerning intellectual property, the assistance of the lawyer is compulsory.