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How to define a patent?

Home > Intellectual Property in France | Published 2010-12-15

By nature, a patent typically covers inventions and innovations; affording monopoly on said creation for a pre-established period of time (usually for twenty years). Any individual or entity may apply for a patent.
The inventor must be mentioned in the patent.

To be patentable, an invention must be original and include inventiveness and industrial application (Article L.611-10 of the Intellectual Property Code).

A new invention is that which is not considered "state of the art". State of the art consists of everything made available to the public by any means prior to filing the application. The invention must be kept confidential until the day of application. If disclosure of the invention’s purpose and existence to a third party is necessary, then each individual should sign a confidentiality agreement.

The invention must involve an inventive phase, i.e. it is not the result of a tradesman’s interpretation of a popular and widely recognized item. Typically, the craftsman is normally competent, experienced, and possesses knowledge of the entire article in question. If any party is unsure of the uniqueness or novelty that unfolds during this “inventive step,” further examination may be pursued. 

"An invention is considered industrially applicable if it can be made or used in any kind of industry including agriculture." (Article L.611-15 of the Intellectual Property Code).

This includes industrial processes, biotechnology products, chemicals ... However, it does not include scientific discoveries, creations, computer programs, animal breeds ...

The patent guarantees a monopoly or exclusive ownership of the invention. This monopoly is limited to twenty years.

The patenting procedure is complex and wrought with many formalities. The wording of the request must possess a precise and accurate description of the invention; therefore it is necessary to consult a professional.

Once drafted, the application is brought to INPI. It is advisable to proceed with a preliminary database search to ensure there are not already patents of similar or identical inventions. The INPI will check the admissibility of the application before granting a filing date. It will also verify the conditions of form and substance within your application file. A research report will be created to assess the possibility of patenting the invention. The patent application is published within 18 months in the Official Bulletin of Industrial Property and, if possible, accompanied by the research report. Once the patent has been issued, no individual can reproduce the trademark unless they receive express permission or license from the patent holder.

The patent may be extinguished by revocation in the event of objection by a third party, or for non-payment of annual fees. Nevertheless, on principle the patent will exist until twenty years past the date of filing.

This article is available online for public information purposes. It is updated regularly, as needed. Due to the constant evolution of the laws and the legal system, we cannot guarantee that the information in this article is still applicable. We invite you to contact us with any legal questions or concerns you have regarding this topic at +33 1 56 79 11 00. In no way can this firm be held liable for articles that contain inaccuracies or are now out of date.

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