Lexicon > INPI

IP Lexicon


The National Institute of Intellectual Property (INPI), located in Courbevoie, is a financially autonomous public institution under the supervision of the Ministry of Industrial Property.

This is the French national office responsible for industrial property.

What are the missions?

Article L.411-1 of the Intellectual Property Code states that the INPI’s mission is to :

“1° To centralize and disseminate all information necessary for the protection of innovations and for the registration of companies, as well as to initiate all awareness-raising and training activities in these fields;

2. to apply the laws and regulations concerning industrial property and the Register of Commerce and Companies; to this end, the Institute shall provide, in particular, for the receipt of applications for industrial property titles or titles annexed to industrial property, for their examination and issue or registration and for the supervision of their maintenance; it shall hear applications for the invalidation and lapse of trademarks mentioned in Article L. 716-5, paragraphs 1 and 2, as well as oppositions filed against patents; it shall centralize the Register of Commerce and Companies, in particular on the basis of computerized data transmitted by the clerks of the commercial courts, and shall ensure that the Register is kept up to date. 716-5, as well as oppositions filed against patents; it centralizes the Trade and Companies Register, in particular on the basis of computerized data transmitted by the clerks of the Commercial Court, and the Official Bulletin of Civil and Commercial Announcements; it ensures the dissemination of technical, commercial and financial information contained in industrial property titles; it ensures the dissemination and free availability to the public, for purposes of re-use, of the technical, commercial and financial information contained in the National Trade and Companies Register and in the centralized legal publicity instruments, in accordance with the procedures laid down by decree; it rules on applications for approval or amendment of the specifications of the geographical indications defined in Article L. 721-2 ;

3° To take any initiative with a view to the permanent adaptation of national and international law to the needs of innovators and enterprises; in this respect, it proposes to the Minister responsible for industrial property any reform that it considers useful in these matters; it participates in the drafting of international agreements as well as in the representation of France in the competent international organizations.

The INPI is thus mainly responsible for :

  • To assist and support companies in the creation and development of their innovations, particularly through training;
  • Valuing innovation through the mechanisms of registration and issuance of intellectual property titles(trademarks, patents, designs);
  • Play an important role in the development and evolution of industrial property law (whether at the national, European Union or global level) as well as in the fight against counterfeiting.

Role of the Director General of INPI

The law attributes a particular role to the Director General of the INPI (articles L.411-4 and L.411-5 of the Intellectual Property Code).

Indeed, the latter is competent to issue, reject or maintain in force intellectual property titles, as well as to approve, reject or modify the specifications of geographical indications.

In addition, the Director General of the INPI is also competent to rule on oppositions, as well as actions for nullity or lapse of rights, particularly trademarks.

Decisions made must be reasoned.

In terms of brands

  • The registration process

There are several steps to obtaining a trademark registration.

When a trademark is filed, the INPI examines it and ensures that the formal and substantive conditions are met, with the exception of availability.

During this examination, the INPI checks the material validity of the application by verifying the information concerning the applicant.

As regards the study of the substantive conditions, the INPI must above all assess the validity of the application submitted to it, and this assessment is becoming increasingly strict.

Indeed, the examiner will verify in particular the distinctive character of the sign with regard to the product(s) and/or service(s) concerned and will make sure that it is not misleading for the consumer or that it is not contrary to public policy and morality.

If any of the conditions examined are not satisfactory, the INPI is likely to issue notifications of irregularity or refuse to grant registration, which is the case, for example, when the mark is devoid of distinctiveness.

At the same time, the trademark application filed may be the subject of an opposition or observations by third parties during a period of 2 months from its publication, which is the exclusive competence of the INPI.

In the event of opposition, the decision of the Director General of INPI may be appealed to the Court of Appeal.

If, at the end of a minimum period of 5 months, no opposition has been filed and the examination by the Office has gone smoothly, the INPI registers the trademark, publishes it in the Bulletin officiel de la propriété industrielle (BOPI) and gives the owner the Registration Certificate.

It is recommended to be accompanied by an intellectual property expert (lawyer or counsel) in the process of filing in order to anticipate as well as possible the problems linked to the availability and validity of the registered trademark (assessment of the legal risk ofthird party opposition, analysis of the distinctivity of the sign, drafting of the wording of the classes of product(s) and/or service( s) etc.).

  • Litigation

In addition to its registration and opposition, the INPI is also competent to deal with nullity actions referred to in articles L. 716-2 et seq. of the Intellectual Property Code, and actions in forfeiture (for lack of serious use or loss of distinctive character) referred to in articles L. 716-3 and following of the Intellectual Property Code.

Decisions rendered on its basis have the same effect as a judgment.

Update on Prior Rights Verification

The INPI does not check the availability of the sign! It is therefore recommended to proceed step by step by first conducting a search to ensure that you do not infringe on the rights of third parties.

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