Opposition (trademarks and patents)

Opposition enables a third party to oppose the issuance of a trademark (French or European) or a European patent centrally before the relevant national office.

The opposition procedure is thus a lower-cost way to prevent protection from being granted to a distinctive sign or invention. Opposition usually costs much less than proceedings for invalidity before a court.

Moreover, because opposition works centrally, it is not necessary (for a European patent) to bring proceedings for invalidity before every court of law in which the patent was validated.

In the area of trademarks, opposition is open to any trademark owner whose rights would be infringed by the registration of another trademark for similar products and services (in particular the risk of the consumer confusing the trademarks). Opposition must take place within 2 months (in France) or 3 months (in Europe) following the publication of the trademark. Opposition must take place within 2 months (in France) or 3 months (in Europe) following the publication of the contested trademark application.

As a result, a person who possesses a prior trademark may oppose the registration of a subsequent trademark.

The conditions for a person to have the right to oppose differ according to the competent office. Certainly, all trademark holders can proceed with an opposition. Under certain conditions, non-trademark holders can also oppose a French or European Union trademark.

In the case of a European patent, opposition is open to any third party who acts within a period of 9 months following issuance of the European patent.

European patents are thus opposed before the European Patent Office (EPO) in Germany, in any of the 3 languages of the EPO (French, English, German).

Oppositions are possible within relatively short timeframes (2 months for a trademark and 9 months for a European patent). Thus, it is usually helpful to set up competitor monitoring (especially for trademarks) so you can detect all titles similar to the ones that you operate and take action within the opposition period.

Hautier IP’s teams frequently carry out oppositions (trademarks and patents) on behalf of clients, but also defend titles from opposition by third parties.