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The act of infringement is defined as being any interference brought to the rights guaranteed by the Intellectual Property Code.
Thus the act of infringement can be the imitation or the reproduction of the drawing or design or an interference with the moral right according to the copyright.
For the direct infringers (those who manufacture or order the manufacture), the unfairness is presumed. The alleged infringer has to prove his good faith. The good faith of the presumed infringer excludes the offence, consequently the penal liability, but not the civil liability which can be incurred following a neglect for example.
According to the jurisprudence, the liability of the different infringers will be holded according to their profession, their relationship with the author ... For example, a subcontractor manufacturer, to whom it is asked to reproduce the design has the duty to inquire about the existence of rights on this design, whereas as a rule his liability is not incurred if a demonstration model has been provide to him.

Which court?

Since November 1st, 2009, only Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nancy, Nanterre, Paris, Rennes, Starsbourg and Fort de France courts have competence for trademark matter.

Who can institute proceedings ?

* the author or his trustees (heirs, assignees, ...)
- the author and the assigne jointly can institute an action for infringement
- a legal entity can institute an action for infringement in the case of a collective work or of an assignment
- in the case of an assignment of a filed design, such an assignment must be registered in the National Design Register. In the absence of such a registration, the assignee can institute an action for infringement of copyright if he has commercialized the design under his name.

* the licencee, even exclusive, has no right to sue in an action for infringement

* a co-author which wants to sue has to notify his action to the other authors under penalty of inadmissibility of his request, unless it is stipulated in the rules that each author can act by himself.

The elements of proof

It is the plaintiff's responsability to report the proof of the existence of the infringement and of the connection with the alleged infringer.

This proof can be brought by any means, and especially by :
- advertising documents having an unquestionable date
- an affidavit made by a bailiff (for example during an exhibition)
- a seizure or a withholding made by the Customs Administration
- a report made by the agents of the fraud repression or by the criminal police officers
- a seizure-infringement.

Prescription

In criminal proceedings, the prescription is of 3 years as from the infringement facts.
In civil proceedings, the prescription is of 10 years.