Special case: utility certificate
The utility certificate is an industrial property right granted by the INPI which, like the patent, gives a monopoly on an invention, but:
- for a maximum period of 10 years, instead of 20 years for the patent
- for which no prior art search report is drawn up during the examination procedure contrary to the patent application
A utility certificate application filed as of January 11, 2020 may be converted into a patent application until the technical preparations for publication (about 16 months from its filing). This conversion must be accompanied by the payment of a search fee and will give rise to the establishment of a prior art search report.
And, from July 1, 2020, it is possible to file with the INPI a provisional patent application, which can be converted into a utility certificate within 12 months.
Easier to access than a patent application, the filing of a utility certificate application offers the applicant additional time for reflection to find out:
- if he wants to reinforce the presumption of validity of his invention by opting for a conversion to a patent giving rise to the establishment of a prior art search report during the grant procedure, or
- if he wishes to make the establishment of a prior art search report conditional on the grant procedure in the event of an infringement action
Responding to the same conditions of validity as the patent, the utility certificate is particularly interesting for protecting inventions with a short lifespan.