Specific points concerning French Designs

The French Design Law has been modified by the Ordinance No 2001-670 of July 25, 2001, with regard to Directive 98/71/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 1998.

According to Articles L. 511-1 to L. 511-8, "A design shall be protected by a design right to the extent that it is new and has proper character".

Study of prior art before creating a new design

The main requirements for a design are novelty and proper character.  To comply with these requirements, it is therefore necessary to have a good knowledge of the state of the art in the field of interest, even if the knowledge will not be complete. Indeed, a prior design can also be filed but not published, or even not filed but protected by the copyright or as an unregistered designs, for example within the European Community.

Novelty

According to the new French Law, the novelty is studied at the filing date or at the priority date, but no more at the creation date. According to Article L. 511-6, a prior design shall be deemed to have been made available to the public if it has been published, used or otherwise disclosed. However, there is no disclosure when the design could not reasonably have become known in the normal course of business to the circles specialised in the sector concerned, operating within the European Community, before the date of filing of the application for registration or, if priority is claimed, the date of priority, and the design shall not be deemed to have been made available to the public for the sole reason that it has been disclosed to a third person under explicit or implicit conditions of confidentiality.

Theoretically, one should proceed to a complete anteriorities search, with no time nor space limit, within all the models, shapes or motifs existing in the world prior to the filing. Such a search is impossible in the practice. However, this search can always be envisaged in order to have knowledge of the anteriorities, to avoid a questionable filing or to avoid being a counterfeiter.

According to Article L. 511-6, if the disclosure has been made during the 12-month period of grace preceding the date of filing of the application or, if priority is claimed, the date of priority, it shall not be taken into consideration :

a) if the design has been made available to the public by the designer, his successor in title, or a third person as a result of information provided or action taken by the designer, or his successor in title;

b) or if the design has been made available to the public as a consequence of an abuse in relation to the designer or his successor in title.

Proper character

According to Article L. 511-4, " A design shall be considered to have proper character if the overall impression it produces on the informed observant differs from the overall impression produced on such a user by any design which has been made available to the public before the date of filing of the application for registration or, if priority is claimed, the date of priority. In assessing proper character, the degree of freedom of the designer in developing the design shall be taken into consideration."

As there is no examination for registering a design in France, it is only in case of a suit that the validity will be evaluated, concerning novelty and proper character.

Term of protection of a French design

Since the order of the 25 July, 2001, a French design is protected during a period of 5 years from its filing date. However, according to the previous law, a French design was registerd for 25 years, once renewable.

Therefore, the term of protection of French designs depends on its filing date.

Designs filed but not renewed before October 1st, 2001

They are still protected for a period of 25 years, but without any possible renewal for a second 25-year period.

Designs filed and already renewed once before October 1st, 2001

The designs renewed before October 1st, 2001, are still protected for a second 25-year period. They are therefore protected for a total period of 50 years.

Designs filed as from October 1st, 2001

These designs are protected for 5 years, renewable up to a maximum of 25 years.

Prorogation of French designs

Since the order of the 25 July, 2001, a French design is protected during a period of 5 years from its filing date.

This protection is renewable by successive periods of 5 years until a maximum period of 25 years.

At the time of the filing of the registration application, it is possible to ask the first 5 years extension. In such case, the design is protected for a first 10 years period, renewable by successive periods of 5 years.

The extension of a design must be requested within a period of 6 months expiring the first day of the month during which the protection of the design comes to end. So, if a design was filed the 5th January, 2006, it is possible to ask its extension from the 5th July, 2010 and until the 31st January, 2011.

In case of extension defect of the design within the time limit, the extension can still be requested by paying a fine, within an additional period of 6 months beginning the 1st day of the month following the expiration of the design. Thus, if the extension of the design filed the 5th January, 2006 has not been requested, it is possible to do it until the 1st August, 2011.

Certificate

The certificate of registration and publication is sent by the French Design Office about 6 months after the filing, depending on the delay at the Office.

Recording a change before the French Designs Register

Recording a change of name or legal form or a change of address

No document is required.

We need to know the previous names, legal form and address as last recorded in the French design register.

Recording an assignment

To record an agreement of assignment, we have to file an application for the registration of this entry, together with :

  • copy of the agreement, which must bear the signatures of both parties ; and
  • a French translation of the agreement.

Concerning the agreement, we can prepare a formal draft thereof which will be in English and French.

We will receive the registration receipt four or five months after the filing of the request (or about one month if swift processing is requested).

No power of attorney is needed

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