When may a challenge to these intellectual property rights be made (e.g. during any registration process or at any time during the subsistence of the right)?
For trade mark and plant varieties, opposition proceedings can be brought during the registration process.
Trade marks, registered designs, and patents can be challenged at any time during the subsistence of the right.
The validity of IPRs can be challenged either during the registration process or during their subsistence depending on the type of the rights concerned.
During the registration process:
Since copyright protection arises from the mere creation without any prior registration requirement, there is no opposition procedure organized under France law.
- Design and model:
There is no opposition procedure organized before the French Office.
During the registration process of a French patent, third parties can submit observations within three months from the date of publication of the preliminary search report relating to a patent application (IPC article R. 612-63). However there is no opposition procedure before the French Office.
During the registration process of a French trademark, the holder of prior rights can oppose to the registration of trademark within two months from the publication of the application. In addition, any third party can submit observations before the French Office.
Following the grant of the right:
The originality of the work allegedly protected by copyright can be discussed before the Court in case of infringement action.
- Design, patent and trademark:
The validity of the right can be challenged before the French Courts either by way of a legal action or by way of a means of defence (see question 27).
Finally, it should be noted that ownership of registered rights can also be challenged on the grounds that the application has been fraudulently filed by an unauthorised party) within five years from the grant of the right (except when bad faith is also established) (see. Patent: IPC article L. 611-8, Design: article L.511.10, Trademark: article L.712-6).
R: The first stage occurs after the publication of the application (in what regards to registered rights). As it is referred above, in what regards to almost all the IP registered rights, third parties may file oppositions in this stage of the application proceedings. If they don’t oppose, in most of the cases it is also possible to appeal from the decisions (usually to the IP Court) within a short period of time after. During the subsistence of the IP right, it is also possible to file cancellation proceedings.
Patent: Any person can file a pre-grant opposition to the grant of a patent after the publication of the application and before the grant of the patent. A post grant opposition can be filed by any person interested anytime before the expiry of one year from the date of publication of the grant of the patent. A revocation can be filed at any time after the grant of the patent.
Designs: A cancellation petition can be filed at any time after the registration of the designs
Geographical indications: Within three months from the date of advertisement or readvertisement of an application for registration or within such further period, not exceeding one month in the aggregate, as the Registrar allows. In case a Geographical indication is registered then a cancellation action can be filed against the same.
Trademarks: An opposition can be filed within 4 months of publication of a trademark application in the journal. In case a mark is registered then a cancellation action can be filed against the same.
Further, a civil or criminal action can be taken at any time (before or after registration) under the writ jurisdiction of the High Court, subject to the rules of writ jurisprudence.
Trade marks may be challenged either during the registration procedure (opposition) or post-registration (cancellation action).
The other registered rights described in section A may only be challenged after they are registered.
Non-registered IP rights can be challenged at any time during the subsistence of the right, most commonly as a defense in infringement proceedings.
During the subsistence of the right.
Patents: observations and prior art documents can be submitted to SIPO after a patent application is published but not yet granted. After the rights are granted or registered, an invalidation request can be filed.
Trademarks: when an application has been given preliminary approval, an opposition can be filed against the mark when it is published in the gazette. After the rights are granted, invalidation against the registered mark can be requested. An application for cancellation due to non-use can be commenced after a mark has been registered for three or more years.
While an application for a patent is pending (whether in the UKIPO or EPO), a third party can challenge the grant of the application through the third party observation ("TPO") procedure. Through this procedure, the third party files its observations with the intellectual property office examining the application (either the UKIPO or EPO) and the examiner will consider the observations. This is an ex partes procedure – once the TPO has been filed, the third party will have no further involvement in explaining or debating the observations or objections filed.
After a UK patent has been granted, a third party can seek to challenge and revoke the right at any time, either through the civil courts or the UKIPO.
For European Patents, once the application has been granted, its validity can be challenged by filing an opposition. Oppositions must be filed at the EPO within 9 months of the patent being granted. Oppositions are inter partes procedures, where the third party opponent may file an opposition brief and evidence, and may attend hearings. If the opposition is successful, the European Patent will be revoked in its entirety – in each country designated on the patent.
In addition, at any time after the grant of a European Patent covering the UK, any person may seek revocation of the UK designation in the UK Court.
Registered trade marks
For trade marks, oppositions may be filed at the relevant intellectual property office (UKIPO for UK applications, and the EUIPO for EU trade mark applications) within three months of the application being published. (For UK trade mark applications, there is an initial two month opposition period, which can be extended to three months.) The opposition procedure is similar to that for patents, being an inter partes procedure in which the third party has a continuing role in challenging the registration.
Third party observations may also be filed at the relevant intellectual property office. The procedure is similar to that for patent applications – the third party will not be involved beyond the original submission of the observations. TPOs can be filed within the 3 month period from the publication of the application or, if an opposition is filed within that period, TPOs can be filed any time before the final decision in the opposition.
After a trade mark has been granted, a third party can seek to challenge and cancel or revoke the right at any time, either through the civil courts, or the EUIPO (in the case of EU trade marks) or UKIPO (in respect of UK trade marks).
For registered designs, the third party must wait until the right has been granted before it can be challenged. It can then be challenged at any time in the civil courts, or the EUIPO (in the case of Community Registered Designs) or UKIPO (in respect of UK Registered Designs).
Patents and Designs
Revocation of a patent may be applied for any time after its grant and revocation of a design registration, any time after publication of registration.
Plant Breeders’ Rights
Any person may object to the grant of a PBR.
A trade mark opposition may be filed within three months after a trade mark application is advertised for opposition purposes. Extensions of the opposition term are possible.
A registered trade mark may be cancelled at any stage during the subsistence of a trade mark registration in the event of non-insertion in or omission from the register of any entry, or of an entry wrongly made in or wrongly remaining on the register, or of any error or defect in any entry in the register, any interested person may apply to the court or, at the option of the applicant to the registrar, for the desired relief, and thereupon the court or the registrar, as the case may be, may make such order for making, removing or varying the entry as it or he may deem fit.
A registered trade mark may, on application to the court, or, at the option of the applicant to the registrar by any interested person, be removed from the register in respect of any of the goods or services in respect of which it is registered, on the ground either—
- that the trade mark was registered without any bona fide intention on the part of the applicant for registration that it should be used in relation to those goods or services by him or any person permitted to use the trade mark, and that there has in fact been no bona fide use of the trade mark in relation to those goods or services by any proprietor thereof or any person so permitted for the time being up to the date three months before the date of the application; or
- that up to the date three months before the date of the application, a continuous period of five years or longer has elapsed from the date of issue of the certificate of registration during which the trade mark was registered and during which there was no bona fide use thereof in relation to those goods or services by any proprietor thereof or any person permitted to use the trade mark during the period concerned; or
- subject to such notice as the court or the registrar, as the case may be, shall direct, and subject to the provisions of the regulations, that, in the case of a trade mark registered in the name of a body corporate, or in the name of a natural person, such body corporate was dissolved, or such natural person died, not less than two years prior to the date of the application and that no application for registration of an assignment of such trade mark has been made.
UAE national patents, utility certificates and designs: can be opposed within 60 days of the publication date. An interested person can file post-grant cancellation actions with the UAE Courts at any time.
GCC patents: can be opposed within 3 months of the publication date.
Trade marks: can be opposed within 30 days of the publication date by any concerned persons. Non-use cancellations can be filed where a registered mark has not been used for an uninterrupted five year period. Cancellation actions on other grounds can be filed at any time, though where the registered mark has been used continuously for at least five years from the date of registration without challenge, no dispute may be raised against the ownership of the mark.
UAE copyright recordals: once a final judgement has been obtained from a court.