The INPI has exclusive jurisdiction (Art. L716-5 I) to hear requests, made primarily, for the invalidity of a French trademark such as (cf. Art. L711-2):
-    being a sign which cannot constitute a mark according to Art. L711-1;
-    devoid of any distinctive character;
-    composed exclusively exclusively of elements or indications which may serve to designate, in trade, a characteristic of the product or service, and in particular the species, quality, quantity, destination, value, geographic origin, the time of production of the good or provision of the service;
-    composed exclusively of elements or indications that have become commonplace in everyday language or in fair and constant business habits;
-    constituted exclusively by the shape or another characteristic of the product imposed by the very nature of this product, necessary for obtaining a technical result or which confers on this product a substantial value;
-    excluded from registration in application of Article 6b of the Paris Convention for the protection of industrial property in the absence of authorization from the competent authorities;
-    contrary to public order or the use of which is legally prohibited;
-    likely to deceive the public, in particular as to the nature, quality or geographic origin of the product or service;
-    excluded from registration under national law, European Union law or international agreements to which France or the Union are parties, which provide for the protection of designations of origin and geographical indications, traditional terms for wines and traditional specialties guaranteed;
-    consisting of the name of an earlier plant variety, registered in accordance with Book VI of the Intellectual Property Code, European Union law or international agreements to which France or the Union are parties, which provide for the protection of plant varieties, or reproducing them in their essential elements, and which relates to plant varieties of the same species or of a closely related species;
-    being a mark whose deposit was made in bad faith by the applicant,
or as infringing previous rights having effect in France (cf. Art. L711-3 I, 1 ° to 5 °, 9 ° and 10 °):
-    an earlier mark
a)    when it is identical to the earlier mark and the goods or services which it designates are identical to those for which the earlier mark is protected;
b)    when it is identical or similar to the earlier mark and the goods or services which it designates are identical or similar to those for which the earlier mark is protected, if there is, in the minds of the public, a risk of confusion including the risk of association with the earlier mark;
-    an earlier registered trademark or a trademark application subject to its subsequent registration, enjoying a reputation in France or, in the case of a European Union trademark, a reputation in the Union, when the posterior mark is identical or similar to the earlier mark, whether or not the goods or services which it designates are identical or similar to those for which the earlier mark is registered or applied for and where the use of this later mark without just cause would take unfair advantage of, or be detrimental to, the distinctive character or the reputation of the earlier mark;
-    a name or a company name, if there is a risk of confusion in the minds of the public;
-    a trade name, a sign or a domain name, the scope of which is not only local, if there is a risk of confusion in the minds of the public;
-    a registered geographical indication mentioned in article L. 722-1 or a request for a geographical indication subject to the approval of its specifications and its subsequent registration;
-    the name, image or reputation of a local authority or a public establishment for inter-municipal cooperation;
-    the name of a public entity, if there is a risk of confusion in the mind of the public;
or as a mark the registration of which has been requested by the agent or representative of the holder of a mark protected in a State party to the Paris Convention for the protection of industrial property, in his own name and without the authorization of the holder unless this agent or representative justifies his approach (cf. Art. L711-3 III);
-    in the case of a guarantee mark, for the reasons of Art. L715-4; or
-    in the case of a collective mark, for the reasons of Art. L715-10).
    The high courts, determined by regulation, have exclusive jurisdiction (Art. L716-5II) to know
-    requests for a declaration of invalidity made as a counterclaim or when probative, provisional or protective measures have been ordered or are being carried out;
-    main claims for invalidity of a French trademark infringing the following prior rights having effect in France: copyright, rights resulting from a protected design and personality rights of a third party, in particular his surname, his pseudonym or his image (cf. Art. L711-3, I, 6 ° to 8 °); and
-    requests for a declaration of invalidity for whatever reason in the event of a request related to another action falling within the jurisdiction of the court, such as an action for unfair competition.

The procedure before the INPI is contradictory (Art. R716-3) and it is open to all without having to prove an interest in acting (Art. L716-2 if it is based on articles L711-2, L715- 4 and L715-9).

Before the courts, such a request is made by any interested person (Art. L716-2). It is open only to holders of prior rights both before the INPI and before the courts (L716-2) if it is based on Article L711-3).

Invalidity actions are imprescriptible (L716-2-6) except in the following two cases:
-    the action or the request for a declaration of invalidity brought by the holder of a well-known mark within the meaning of article 6 bis of the Paris Convention for the protection of industrial property lapses after 5 years from the date of registration, unless the latter has been requested in bad faith (Art. L716-2-7); and
-    the holder of a prior right who has tolerated for a period of 5 consecutive years the use of a later mark registered with knowledge of this use is no longer admissible to request the nullity of the later mark on the basis of the 'article L711-3, for products or services for which the use of the mark has been tolerated, unless the registration thereof has been requested in bad faith (Art. L716-2-8).

Submission of the application for a declaration of invalidity

The request for invalidity includes (Art. R716-1):
-    the identity of the applicant;
-    where appropriate, the particulars to establish the existence, nature, origin and scope of the prior rights invoked;
-    the references of the contested mark as well as the indication of the products or services targeted by the invalidity request;
-    a statement of the grounds on which the request for a declaration of invalidity is based; and
-    proof of payment of the prescribed fee

Inadmissibility

-    the INPI is not competent;
-    the presentation of the request does not meet the conditions for the presentation of Art. R716-1 and Art. R716-2;
-    a decision has already been rendered by the INPI or a court between the same parties and for identical facts and there is no longer any remedy (Art. R716-13);
-    the request for a declaration of invalidity made by the holder of an earlier mark for more than 5 years on the date of the request for a declaration of invalidity which, at the request of the holder of the later mark, does not provide proof:
a)    that the earlier mark has been the subject, for the products or services for which it is registered and which are invoked in support of the request, of serious use during the 5 years preceding the date on which the a request for a declaration of invalidity has been made, under the conditions provided for in Article L.714-5 or, in the case of a European Union trademark, in Article 18 of Regulation (EU) 2017 / 1001 of June 14, 2017;
b)    or that there were just reasons for its non-use;
-    the request for a declaration of invalidity made by the holder of an earlier mark registered for more than 5 years on the filing date or on the priority date of the later mark which, at the request of the holder of the later mark, does not yield the proof :
a)    that the earlier mark has been the subject, for the goods or services for which it is registered and which are invoked in support of the request, of serious use during the 5 years preceding the filing date or the priority date of the subsequent mark, under the conditions provided for in Article L.714-5 or, in the case of a European Union mark, in Article 18 of the Regulation (EU) 2017/1001 of June 14, 2017;
b)    or that there were just reasons for its non-use;
-    the request for a declaration of invalidity based on an earlier mark when the holder of the registered earlier mark does not establish, at the request of the owner of the later mark, that on the filing date or the priority date of this later mark, the earlier mark, which may be canceled on the basis of 2 °, 3 ° and 4 ° of article L.711-2, had acquired a distinctive character;
-    the request for a declaration of invalidity based on b of 1 ° of I of article L.711-3 when the owner of the registered earlier mark does not establish, at the request of the holder of the later mark, that on the date the filing or priority date of this later mark, the earlier mark invoked had acquired a sufficiently distinctive character capable of justifying the existence of a likelihood of confusion in the mind of the public;
-    the request for a declaration of invalidity based on 2 ° of I of article L.711-3 when the holder of the earlier registered mark does not establish, at the request of the holder of the later mark, than on the filing date or on the priority date of that later mark, the earlier mark invoked had acquired a reputation within the meaning of this provision.

Instruction of the procedure (Art. R716-16)

-    the request is notified to the holder of the contested mark (TMC), who has 2 months to present written comments in response and, if necessary, produce any documents which he considers useful;
-    in the event of a response, the applicant has a period of 1 month to submit written comments in reply and produce any documents which he considers useful;
-    in the event of a reply from the applicant, the TMC again has 1 month to present new observations or produce new documents; in the event of a response, the applicant has a new period of 1 month to present his last written observations or to produce new documents;
-    in the event of a reply by the applicant, the TMC has a final period of 1 month to present its last written observations or produce new documents, without being able to invoke new means.  

Within the framework of the presentation of its written observations, each party may request to present oral observations. The Director General of INPI may also invite the parties to submit oral observations. The oral procedure then takes place at the end of the written phase of the investigation.
  

At any time, the applicant for a declaration of invalidity may waive one or more of the grounds invoked or limit the scope of his request to certain products or services referred to (Art. R716-7 1 °).

The investigation phase may be suspended at the joint request of the parties for a period of 4 months, renewable twice.

Decision

The INPI has 3 months to decide from the end of the investigation phase. The loser can be condemned to the payment of a fixed compensation.

The decision is subject to appeal for review before a competent Court of Appeal.