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Home > Intellectual Property in France | Published 2015-07-03

Obtaining a patent for an invention is a long and costly process, but extremely necessary for innovative companies or individuals. Engaging the services of a lawyer is essential for anyone who wishes to ensure that each step of the legal process is executed well. The lawyer will work in collaboration with the engineer so as to respond to the legal and technical aspects of the patent application. Lawyers Picovschi is available to guide you through the procedure.

What is a patent?

A patent on an invention allows the patent-holder to secure exclusive operating rights—to corner the market—for a certain time, generally about twenty years. Any individual can file a patent. The inventor must, obviously, be mentioned in the patent.

To be eligible for a patent, an invention must be new and entail an innovative and practical industrial application. An invention is said to be “new” when it is not already understood as part of “state of the art technology.” State of the art refers to all that has been made available to the public by some means before the application is submitted. What this means, then, is that the invention must be kept secret until the date of the submission, and if disclosure to a third party is necessary, then confidentiality agreements should be signed.

The invention has to have an innovative function, which is to say that it cannot be an easily and obviously derived variation of technology already available. This is assessed “abstractly” from the point of view of the average man with normal technical competencies and who is familiar with available technology.

Furthermore, the invention has to have an industrial application. It is considered as such according to the Code of intellectual property: “if the object can be created or used in an industrial sector, including agriculture”.

Therefore, industrial processes, biotechnology products, and chemical substances are patentable. Not eligible for patents are scientific discoveries, aesthetic creations, computer programs, and animal breeds.

A patent grants an exclusive “monopoly,” which refers to certain rights of ownership of the invention. However, this monopoly is limited to twenty years.

The process of filing a patent

The process of filing for a patent is formal. The written statement of the application must be meticulously organized—the description and the claims for intellectual property rights protect must be precise. This is why it is important to call an intellectual property lawyer when filing.

Once drafted, the submission is sent to the INPI. It is a good idea to do some research beforehand to ensure that there is not already a patent for a similar or identical invention, so as to not be accused of infringement. The INPI will verify if the submission is admissible before granting a date of deposit. After, the INPI will check if the invention meets the conditions of form and substance.

A research account will be developed to assess the possibility of patenting the invention.  The patent application is published within the eighteen months of the Official Intellectual Property Journal accompanied by, if possible, the research report.

Once the patent is published in the journal, anyone can study it, but they cannot execute it without a license or consent from the patent holder.

The patent can be cancelled and revoked if a third party makes a strong case of opposition or if the holder does not pay the annual fee. However, the standard is a duration of twenty years from the filing date.

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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