An "Industrial design right" provides an exclusive legal right that allows the holder to protect his or her aesthetic creation.
An industrial design right protects objects that are distinguishable from their counterparts due to their form, configuration, or an external effect so long as it provides the object with a novel or original appearance. Appraisals of the artistic value of the object are not involved. The distinction between two-dimensional "drawings" and three-dimensional "models" has no legal significance.
The industrial design right applies from the moment of application with the INPI
The application sets an exact date for the creation. The holder, whoever they may be, can then be certain of their status as the object’s creator. They will not need to prove either that they are the author or, failing that, that the author has assigned them this right. Only the true creator could, if necessary, reverse this status.
An industrial design application with the INPI gives the holder a monopoly on their creation, provided that it presents a novelty.
This novelty does not need to extend throughout the design: a model can borrow many of its elements from the public domain and present only certain novel characteristics (e.g. the shape of the armrests or footrest of an armchair, etc.). It can even be exclusively composed of previously known elements so long as the creator has arranged or combined them in a novel way. However, this novelty may be contested by the existence of prior art, which can occur if a design or model with an identical or very similar aesthetic is found that has an earlier creation date. The search for prior art is limited by neither time nor space ; one can search into the past indefinitely (for example, a 13th-century fabric motif) and refer to a design created in any country in the world. The disclosure of a similar design destroys its novelty.
The monopoly granted by the INPI has a maximum duration of 25 years...
The monopoly granted by the INPI has a maximum duration of 25 years, renewed every 5 years from the application date. It is also possible to license the exploitation to a third party.
An industrial design right granted by the INPI…
An industrial design right granted by the INPI allows the holder to prohibit third parties from manufacturing and selling an identical product or imitation (counterfeits).
Industrial designs that cannot be protected…
Industrial designs cannot be protected if the external shape of the product is dictated by the actual function of the object, i.e. the technical constraints that govern its use also provide its shape.
Numerous procedures exist for obtaining an industrial design internationally…
Numerous procedures exist for obtaining an industrial design internationally with priority given to those applied for within 6 months of the French application date. These procedures include national applications in foreign countries and applying to the WIPO Geneva International Model for protection in one or more of the convention’s signatory states.