Industrial or Intellectual Property?

Industrial Property is a subset of Intellectual Property. It concerns creations that are by their nature industrial, a form of property grouping mainly patents, trademarks, designs and models respectively protecting technological innovations, distinctive signs, and aesthetic creations. Industrial property, by the advantages that it confers, encourages creation. Intellectual Property also includes Literary and Artistic Property. (French Intellectual Property Code)

What is patent law?

Patent law is a legal framework that establishes a system that encourages technological innovation and promotes economic development. The violation of a patent right is sanctioned as a result of an action brought before the courts having jurisdiction to put an end to infringements of the monopoly conferred by patents. Courts may also declare a patent challenged by a third party void.

Draw me a patent

A patent is a title issued by the public authorities. It confers an exclusive right on an invention (product or process) that provides a new technical solution to a technical problem. To be patentable, however, an invention must fulfill certain conditions (novelty, inventive step, industrial application). Patents have an incentive function, offering inventors recognition of their creativity. Patents thus encourage innovation and preserve the technological progress of their owners.

Why patent?

Innovation is at the heart of your daily life and economic development. The success and sustainability of a business depends largely on the ability to imagine new products. That is why, whatever the nature of a creation, this deserves to be protected. Research is made profitable and gives a strategic competitive advantage, in an increasingly competitive and globalized environment. The patent strengthens the value of a company. More than an indicator of performance, it is an element of its intangible assets that can be valued and transmitted.

What are the advantages for the patentee?

The patent guarantees its holder an operating monopoly for their invention. This monopoly is granted for a limited period, usually twenty years, in a given territory. Therefore, an invention cannot be made, used, distributed or sold without the consent of the patent owner. The latter has the right to decide who is authorized, and who is not authorized, to exploit the patented invention for the duration of the protection. It may, through a license agreement, allow third parties to use the invention on mutually agreed terms. They may also assign their right over the invention to a third party, who then becomes the owner of the patent. When the patent expires, the protection ends and the invention enters the public domain. The holder loses the exclusive rights of the invention and it can be freely exploited by third parties.

And the obligations for the patentee?

The counterpart of patent protection is its publication. Public disclosure of patents contributes to the enrichment of the global technical knowledge base, encouraging creativity and innovation. Therefore, not only does the patent protect the owner of the invention, but it provides innovation actors with a pool of valuable information and is a source of inspiration for future generations of researchers and inventors.

What types of inventions can I patent?

An invention must be capable of industrial application, contain an element of novelty, i.e. one or more new characteristics not included in the state of the art. The invention must involve an inventive step, that is to say, not be obvious to a person having an average knowledge of the technical field considered. Its purpose must also not be excluded from the scope of patentability. In many countries, scientific theories, mathematical methods, plant or animal varieties, discoveries of natural substances, commercial methods and methods of medical treatment (as opposed to medical products) are, as such, excluded from patent protection.

I am in contact with a potential investor, can I discuss my invention before applying for a patent?

You must file a patent application before disclosing the characteristics of an invention. Any invention made public before being the subject of a patent application will be considered as falling within the state of the art. An applicant who discloses their invention to the public before filing a patent application will no longer be able to obtain a valid patent for their invention, which no longer satisfies the novelty requirement. Some countries provide a grace period for applicants who have disclosed their invention to file a patent application. If the disclosure of an invention to an investor or potential business partner is required before the invention has been protected, such disclosure may be subject to a confidentiality agreement, so that the disclosure does not invalid the filing of the subsequent patent application.

What is the content of a patent application?

The first step in obtaining a patent is to file a patent application with the competent national Intellectual Property office. This contains a title of invention, an indication of the relevant technical field, a description of the invention, one or more claims and a summary. The description must be written clearly and in sufficient detail so that a person with average knowledge of the field can exploit the invention or reproduce it. It is generally accompanied by illustrations, drawings, plans or graphics, facilitating the understanding of the invention. The claim(s) provide a definition of the scope of patent protection.

Who issues my patent?

Patents are issued by the relevant national patent offices, or by regional offices covering more than one country, such as the European Patent Office or the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization.

How to get a patent worldwide?

To date, none of the systems in place confers global or international patent rights. Therefore, a patent application must be filed in each of the countries in which you wish to obtain protection. In some regions, a regional patent office, such as the European Patent Office (EPO) or the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), offers the option of regional patent applications, or issues patents. These titles produce the same effects as an application filed or a patent issued in member states of that region. In addition, any resident or national of a Contracting State to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is entitled to file an international patent application under the PCT. This international patent application is similar to taking an option to initiate grant procedures in various contracting states. This mechanism offers an additional period of reflection without committing, in the short term, a substantial budget and thus making it possible to evaluate the relevance of the invention with regard to its market. However, this option must be exercised within 30 months of the filing date of the first patent application.

How to find patent information?

For the purpose of researching patent applications and granted patents, most national or regional patent offices make available freely accessible electronic databases on the Internet (espacenet , PatentScope etc.). However, given the technical and legal skills required, it is recommended to contact an IP Attorney in the case of advanced patent searches.

My invention is software, can I get a patent?

The requirements for the grant of patents vary from one country or region to another. Depending on the country, established practices and case law relating to the patentability of software-related inventions differ significantly. In some countries, inventions must be of a technical nature and the software itself is not considered a patentable invention. In other countries, such requirements do not apply and software can generally be patented. Therefore, it is recommended to consult a Patent Attorney or the relevant Intellectual Property office. In addition, computer programs may be protected under copyright. However, copyright protection applies only to expressions, not to ideas, procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts.

I am a legal entity, can I claim grants or subsidies?

In the context of filing a patent application or more generally the constitution of a patent portfolio on behalf of a legal person, it is possible to claim several grants.


Your company has never filed a French patent application?
It can claim a DIAGNOSTIC INNOVATION grant (50% of the fees of the service provider in charge of the drafting and filing of the patent application – excluding official taxes) awarded by BPI France.

To obtain such a grant, it is previously required to have benefited from a “PRE-DIAGNOSTIC INPI”, awareness tool of the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) to good practices of Industrial Property.

You have not yet benefited from this assistance?
We recommend that you contact the regional delegation of the National Institute of Industrial Property to assess your eligibility for the “PRE-DIAGNOSTIC INPI” system.
In the southern region, the “DIAGNOSTIC INNOVATION” grant application is usually submitted to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) or any authorized regional prescriber.
For this purpose, we recommend you contact these regional organizations.


When protection for an initial invention is extended on an international level, for example by filing an international patent request, with the request generally being filed within twelve months of the initial patent being filed, your company can claim a PASS PI grant (50% of the fees of the service provider in charge of drafting and filing the international and/or foreign patent application – excluding official taxes). The PASS PI can cover other expenses such as contractual support.


We also inform you that all fees for setting up and maintaining a patent portfolio are eligible for the Research Tax Credit.

Useful links

  • National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI)
  • European Patent Office (OEB)
  • Worldwide Office of Industrial Property (OMPI)