Since May 22nd, 2020, the enactment of law “PACTE” considerably changes French patent practices concerning the examination procedure for French patent applications: the French Patent Office (INPI) can now reject an application for lack of inventive step.
Before this date, the patent could be revoked by the Paris Court of First Instance on the basis of this ground. The absence of an inventive step examination nevertheless considerably simplified the grant procedure. It was therefore easy to obtain a patent in France.
Nowadays, the INPI can reject a patent application on the basis of lack of inventive step, like the European Patent Office and the Offices of major industrialized countries, including the American, Canadian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Russian Offices. Thus, it will now be more difficult to obtain a French patent. However, granted patents will be stronger and therefore likely to be more valuable.
Although the INPI assures that the granting time will remain reasonable, the discussion of the inventive step criterion should prolong the French examination procedure since several exchanges with the examiner is likely to be expected.
With this new study criteria of patentability, the French examination procedure comes closer to the European procedure currently implemented by the European Patent Office.
Mrs Sophie BELLON- European Patent Representative