April 8th, 2020

Inventive step of French patents examined prior to grant

Novelty and inventive step are the main conditions of validity of the French patent.
At present, French patents are granted by the INPI (National Institute of Industrial Property) without examination of inventive step, and except in the case of a "manifest lack of novelty". Inventive step is only considered when the validity of the patent is examined by a court, or since very recently in the context of opposition proceedings initiated by a third party (available for patents granted since April 1, 2020).
The INPI will soon take inventive step into account in its examination of patent applications. This provision will apply to all patent applications filed as of May 22, 2020.

This provision will make it more difficult to obtain a "weak" patent for an unpatentable invention. This type of patent was used by certain vendors to display a protection that is in reality invalid, in order to obtain an unjustified monopoly on their products. These strategies will become rarer, opening the market to fairer competition.

In addition, patent holders will be able to have greater confidence in the strength of their title in view of possible litigation.

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