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France: Two measures to improve access to patent system

In order to facilitate access for small business entities and startups to the patent protection of their inventions, the French Patent Office recently presented a draft of an amendment to the French Patent Law introducing a provisional patent application (PPA) and a 10-year utility patent.

The utility certificate is an industrial property title analogous to a patent of invention (same patentability criteria) but limited to a six-year duration, granted without any search report but linked to a specific filing date. When suing for infringement one request the establishment of a search report.

Note that that any patent or utility certificate may claim the priority of a previous French patent or utility certificate application.

The minimum requirements for filing a PPA would be to have a clear description and drawings. There will be no need to draft claims. The applicant would have a 12-month period to convert the PPA into a patent or a utility patent application.

Figure 1: The present situation is illustrated

Source: FPO

Figure 2: The proposed future situation is shown

Source: FPO

The utility patent applicant would have the possibility to convert it into a patent application.

The grant of a utility patent could still be obtained without the establishment of a search report. Again, in such a scheme, any patent or utility patent may claim the priority of a previous French patent or utility patent application.

These proposals have been submitted by the French Patent Office for comments and should become more mature in the near future.

The introduction of the PPA and of the utility patent would allow applicants to elaborate a more sophisticated strategy of protection in line with the applicant's strategy, but would also introduce more complexity and entail certain risks especially concerning the quality of the definition of patented inventions and the existence of patent titles granted without any search report.


Philippe Kohn

GEVERS41, avenue de FriedlandParis 75008, FranceTel: +33 1 45 00 48 48Fax: +33 1 40 67 95

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