You are ready to launch your business in France and you would also like to register your brand or trademark. But where the heck do you start? In this article, I’m showing where to go to check that your brand name or trademark is available in France, as well as how to protect your brand. This process is called dépôt de marque and is done with INPI, the national institute for intellectual property.
Is your brand name or trademark available in France
You thought of the greatest name for your business or brand, but now need to ensure that this name hasn’t been taken by someone else.
Head over to INPI’s ici marque database and type your brand name in “nom de marque”, then click on “rechercher”. Also make sure to tick “non-active” just above the form in order to list all the active and inactive brands. There are rather a lot of fields, but you can pretty much ignore the others to start with. The results will show you anyone with a similar name or close to yours.
Be aware that if it doesn’t show anything, this doesn’t mean that no one is issuing this brand name. It could simply be that they haven’t registered it, as this is not compulsory. A quick search in Google is also a must to see if someone else uses this name, as well as with your favourite supplier of domain names.
What can I protect with INPI
You can use this site to protect your trademark and logo, your patents called “brevet”, as well as your designs called “dessins et modèles”. In this article I am covering specifically trademarks, but you can find out more about the procedure and cost in English on INPI’s website.
How to protect your brand in France
Once you have carried out this brand availability check, you can complete INPI’s trademark registration form online www.inpi.fr.
Indicate your trademark, as well as the classes of goods or services for which you want to be registered. Classes are numbers referring to a type of product or services, for instance 35 is for advertising, 41 for education and 25 for clothes. It has no connection to your business’ APE code, the activity code on your official business papers.
This means that when registering a trademark, you only get protection for specific sectors of activity. The choice of these sectors is made when filling out the trademark registration form by adding “classes”. There are 45 different classes, each of which corresponds to specific products or services. This is referred to as Nice classification and your basic registration only includes 3 categories. Any extra category will cost an extra 40€ per additional class.
It is possible to choose as many classes as you wish. To choose them well, be sure to precisely determine the nature of your products or services. You can also consult the trademark registrations made by your competitors for inspiration.
How much does it cost to register a trademark in France
The cost of registering a trademark with INPI is 190€, with an extra 40€ per additional class you may want to add. You will be asked to pay this amount upfront, when you submit your registration.
How long does a trademark registration last for in France
A trademark registration with INPI is valid in France for 10 years and is renewable indefinitely (although you will have to pay again). Be aware that the trademark registration process in France with INPI is quite long and that they can take 3 months to come back to you. So, it is best to start this process early on with your business project. You can always register a trademark under your name and bring it to the business.
Will my French trademark protect me abroad
I’m afraid not, INPI registers you for France. Although it looks like the online account with INPI enables you to start this process. If you plan to sell in Europe or Wordwide, you can file a European trademark with EUIPO (European Union Office for Intellectual property) or an international trademark with WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization).