When setting up your business, you will need to choose a company name, a trade name, a sign or even a brand name to distinguish your products and services. In order not to risk infringing the prior rights of third parties, be sure to carry out a prior art search with the INPI. Likewise, to prevent a third party from abusing one of the cited elements that distinguish your activity, you must protect them with the INPI …

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As a reminder, the corporate name identifies the company as a legal person, the trade name distinguishes the business or the activity of the company, the brand identifies the operating premises and its protection arises from the first public use . As for the brand, it differentiates products or services of your business and should be protected so that no one else can use it.

Ownership of the company name is acquired when the company is registered with the RCS. It must appear in the articles of association which will be the subject of a publication in a newspaper of legal announcements then of the registration of the company in the Register of Commerce and Companies.

Choose your brand

To distinguish your products and services, you can freely choose a brand name. However, it must meet certain conditions.

Your brand can take many forms:

Above all, your brand must be able to be represented in writing. Thus, sound marks cannot be protected by trademark law unless the sounds are represented by musical notes, for example. The same is true for taste brands.

Your brand should also be distinctive, that is, it must differentiate your products and services. An overly descriptive sign cannot be protected. For example, the brand “furniture store” is not protectable, because it is too descriptive. Also consider filing a brand name that is compatible with the language of the countries in which you plan to register your mark.

Finally, the brand you choose should be available. To verify this, you can perform a prior art search on the INPI database. For more guarantees, the organization can do a search for similarities “for 50 euros.

Register your brand

When you register your brand, you have two options: you can either register it in your name (if you are a micro-entrepreneur for example), or register it in the name of your company. The second option is to be preferred since it allows to value the assets of your business.

When filing your brand, you will have to protect it under certain “classes” which correspond to categories of products or services. For example, class 25 corresponds to clothing. Certain activities may cover several classes, so you will have to cite all of them in order to obtain a monopoly on the exploitation of your brand.

The ownership of the brand is acquired after its examination by the INPI. It will take 250 euros for paper filing or 210 euros for electronic filing (INPI rate valid in 2017).

Register your brand

The deposit is final when it is published in the Official Bulletin of Industrial Property (BOPI) within 6 weeks. Anyone can dispute your deposit within 2 months. Otherwise, the deposit registration is automatically published in the BOPI within 5 months. At the end of this procedure, you will receive the final registration certificate for your brand by the INPI. Registration provides trademark protection during 10 years renewable indefinitely.

Once your trademark is registered, you can make an assignment at any time. This complex operation, however, requires the assistance of an industrial property professional.

Without forgetting…

  • Monitor third-party filings so you can object to a brand that is too close to yours. Beyond 5 years, you will no longer be able to sue a competitor who has used a similar or identical brand.
  • To exploit your brand in order to maintain your operating monopoly.

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