6 Free IP Databases on the French Patent Office (INPI) Website

Most intellectual property offices have their own websites, and these sites can host an incredibly broad variety of information, ranging from national news on patents, trademark, designs, and copyright to instructions on how to register all types of intellectual property.  These websites also often host databases that allow users to search for patents, designs, or trademarks issued by the offices. We’ve spotlighted a few excellent IP office websites in past posts, such as the PRV website of the Swedish Patent and Registration Office, which hosts a user-friendly layout and multiple IP databases for users to search.  The website for the French Patent Office (Institut national de la propriété industrielle – INPI) also hosts the usual news and instructional information on registering patents, trademarks, and designs in France, but the INPI is a stand-out example of an office website which hosts a wide range of intellectual property databases. The INPI website hosts six separate portals which allow users to access French trademarks, designs, patent published since 1978, 19th century patents, patent legal statuses and file history documents,  and IP case law information.

Continue reading for a closer look at six free databases accessible through the French INPI website!

The INPI website only appears to be available in French, although one database (legal status) includes an English-language version of the portal.  Searchers can utilize a machine translation tool (like Google Translate) to translate the site into their language of choice.  From the INPI homepage (viewed in the screenshot below through Google Translate from French to English), users can select the “Databases” links in the right side menu to access a list of all free databases available through the website. Users can also select each individual link in the side menu to access each database directly.

Databases available on the INPI website.

The six databases accessible through the INPI website include:

  • Brands Database – Search through bibliographic and legal information on over 3 million trademarks. This database is updated weekly. Search by brand name, classification, registration number, or through an advanced fielded search form. This database only appears to be available in French.

Search French trademarks.

  • Patents Database – FR_Espacenet gives you access to about 5 million French, European, and international applications (and granted patents) published since 1978. You can view the originals of all applications and patents issued since 1989 and French translations for French EP patents since 2004. A new version of the service, online since February 21, 2012, is presented similarly to the EPO Worldwide Espacenet. The interface only seems to be available in French, although users can choose from a drop-down menu of other country-specific Espacenet portals in various languages.

Search French patent documents in an Espacenet interface.

  • Patent Status Database – View legal information on FR and EP applications (designating France) from 1989. View information about payment of the last renewal fee in France and documents related to the the issuing process for French applications filed since 2001. Finally, view legal information on supplementary protection certificate (SPC) applications filed at the INPI from 1993. This portal is accessible in both English and French.

Search for the legal status and related documents for French patents and applications.

  • 19th Century Patents – Search French patents issued from 1791 to 1902. Search by name of applicant or agent or use an advanced fielded search form.  Users can view bibliographic data on these documents or a fully scanned version of the document.   This portal is only available in French.

View the fully scanned images of 19th century French patents.

  • Designs Database – Search and view bibliographic and legal information on about 700,000 French designs and 350,000 international designs. French design coverage includes those published since 1910, with images from 1996 (source INPI). International designs includes those published since 1979, with images from 1985 (Source WIPO). The database is updated every 15 days for French designs and monthly for international designs. The database does not include unregistered designs whose publication has been a request for adjournment or those deposited in simplified form.  Search by class or use an advanced fielded search form.  This portal only appears to be available in French.

Search French designs.

  • Caselaw Database - Search national court decisions involving intellectual property, as well as decisions of the INPI regarding opposition brands.   This portal only seems to be available in French. You can consult judgments and decisions relating to:
    • patents since 1823 (full text from 1997)
    • brands since 1904 (full text from 1997)
    • designs since 1994 (full text from 1994)
    • oppositions brand since 2004 in full text.

Search for French IP case law.

Additionally, users may also download official bulletins from the INPI (Bulletin officiel de la propriété industrielle – BOPI), including BOPI Patents from January 2005 onwards and BOPI Trademarks and Designs from January 2006 onwards.

Conclusion

The French INPI website offers a wide variety of intellectual property databases accessible freely through its website.  These databases include the standard patent, patent legal status, trademark, and design search options, but the case law database and 19th century patent database both contain unique information that isn’t usually available on an intellectual property office website. It would be useful if the INPI search portals had more multilingual search interfaces to facilitate easy searching in languages other than French, but a machine translation tool like Google Translate can alleviate this problem relatively easily.  Professional patent searchers with native-language skills are still the best option for international prior art searches, but users can initially scope a a wide range of French IP data through the INPI utilizing the website’s six databases.

Do you know of other IP office websites that host unique databases? Let us know about them in the comments!

Patent Searches from Landon IP

This post was contributed by Joelle Mornini. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.

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