Patents in France

By filing your patent with the INPI [Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle, the French Patent Office], you will obtain an operating monopoly in France for a maximum period of 20 years. A patent confers a right to prohibit within France the use, production, importing, etc. of your invention without your authorisation. You can sue infringers in the courts. The patent is also an effective means of dissuasion: in many cases, it is sufficient to avoid legal proceedings, etc.

Drafting a patent application

It is essential to know that the text of a patent application cannot be freely amended during its lifespan, which is 20 years. As a result, drafting a patent application requires both legal expertise and technical expertise. With several hundreds of patent applications prepared and drafted each year, ARGYMA has the experience and expertise that are essential for preparing high-quality content and thereby obtain a patent in France.

Filing a patent application in France

Before your patent application is filed, ARGYMA collects all the necessary information, i.e. the contact details of the applicant(s) and inventor(s), as well as the documents required for a possible reduction of fees.

Your invention is protected as of the date your patent application is filed with the INPI. This protection is validated when the patent is granted.

After filing, when the authorisation to exploit is obtained, your invention can be disclosed and commercialized.

Authorisation to disclose

Every patent application filed with the INPI is sent to the French Ministry of Defence, which is authorised to carry out a confidential review of the contents of the invention. Then, after examination, it rules on whether it this is likely to be of interest to the National Defence or not. If not, several weeks after your patent application was filed, the INPI transmits the authorisation to disclose and exploit the invention. The obligation to keep your innovation secret is therefore lifted.

Choosing the applicant

A patent application can be filed in the name of one or more natural persons or legal entities. The applicant, also called the “seeker”, will therefore be the owner of the patent.

  • The following are considered to be natural persons: private individuals, artisans or retailers operating as a sole proprietorship, self-employed professionals, etc.
  • The following are considered to be legal entities: civil companies (GAEC [producers’ association], SCI [real estate investment company], etc.), commercial companies (SA [limited company], SARL [limited liability company], etc.), GIEs [economic interest groups], associations, the State as represented by its ministries, regional authorities, trade unions, public institutions, etc. Although its existence is not official, a company in the course of creation can also file a patent application. Consequently, it is up to the founder, possibly represented by a designated representative, to carry out the required formalities. Once created, the company only has to take over responsibility for the submission performed during its period of creation to officially become its owner.

Reduction of fees

It is possible to qualify for a 50% reduction on the main fees of the procedure if:

  • The applicant is a natural person;
  • The applicant is a company (SME) that employs fewer than 1,000 persons and no more than 25% of its capital is held by an entity not complying with this condition;
  • The applicant is a nonprofit organisation (NPO) in the education or research sector.

During the filing, or within a maximum of one month after the filing date, SMEs and NPOs must provide the INPI with proof of belonging to one of these categories.

Choosing an inventor

One or more inventors must be designated when a patent application is filed. They must be natural persons. According to the INPI, 90% of patented inventions are by salaried inventors. In this case, the law provides a specific regime for an invention developed in a company by one of its employees.

Search report

The production of a search report is a fundamental step in the procedure, since it makes it possible to assess the patentability of your invention with regard to the state of the art. The preliminary search report cites the state of the art: it lists the documents (patent applications, patents, scientific articles, or any type of publication) that are identical, similar or close to your invention and have been put in the public domain, or filed, before the filing date/priority date of your patent application. These documents are commonly called “prior-art documents”. The search is carried out based on an international repository of documents by the INPI or by the EPO (the European Patent Office).

The search report is accompanied by an opinion on the patentability of the invention intended to help you interpret this preliminary search report with regard to novelty and inventive step. This written opinion is indicative, but you are strongly recommended to examine it carefully. It is very probable that the same objections will be raised in other jurisdictions if you want protection outside France.

ARGYMA prepares and submits a response to the INPI, defending the patentability of the invention. This must be submitted to the INPI within 3 months. This can be extended once for an additional three months. The response will consist of comments on the relevance of the prior-art documents cited and/or provide modifications to your claims.

Publication of the patent application

Your patent application must be published by the INPI and is therefore made public 18 months after the initial filing with either the INPI or a foreign office. This publication is made in the Bulletin Officiel de la Propriété Industrielle (“BOPI”) and simultaneously in the INPI’s register of patents. The publication also concerns the preliminary search report if it is already available.

In some cases, such as the suspicion that a third party (competitor or possible counterfeiter) is exploiting your invention, it may be useful to request early publication of the patent application to assert your patent rights earlier. In that case, your application can be published before the end of the 18-month period. This request for early publication can be made to the INPI at any time.

Granting of the patent

About 30 months after your patent application is filed and all the conditions have been met, the INPI sends an invitation to pay a fee for grant and for printing of the patent specifications. The payment must be made within 2 months of the invitation, otherwise your patent application may be rejected.

After the payment has been made, the text of the patent (including the claims) is fixed. As a result, the actual grant takes place at this stage. Several weeks after the fee has been paid, the INPI publishes the notice of grant and sends us a copy of your patent indicating, among others, the national number of your filing.

Congratulations, you now have your patent!


The opposition procedure makes it possible, without initiating legal proceedings, for any third party to contest fully or partially the granting of a patent by the INPI, just like the similar provisions in other countries within the European Patent Office. The aim is to make it easier to challenge invalid titles.

This right of opposition makes it possible for any third party to request the partial or total revocation of a granted patent which it considers invalid with regard to the conditions for granting a patent, namely, in particular:

  • Novelty: the technical solution presented must not form part of the state of the art available at the time of filing;
  • Inventive step: it must not be obvious to a person skilled in the art in the light of the state of the art;
  • Industrial applicability;
  • Not be excluded from patentability by law (e.g. scientific discoveries).

The opponent can also file an opposition if the invention is not sufficiently described in the patent.

The time-limit for filing opposition is 9 months following publication of the notice of grant in the BOPI.

Following proceedings before the INPI involving both parties, the patent can be revoked partially or totally, or maintained in amended form or identical to the initial filing. This decision can be appealed in the Court of Appeal of Paris.