Very good news that, as of 1 April 2020, it is no longer necessary to go through the courts to invalidate or revoke a French trade mark.
It is entirely sensible to make use of the existing expertise of the French IP office (INPI) for this purpose, will free up capacity in the courts for other disputes, and will make it easier and cheaper for unused trade marks in particular to be removed from the register. INPI has explicitly stated that it wants the new procedures to have the effect of de-cluttering the French trade mark register, as the high costs of cancellation have proven something of a barrier to new entrants to the market.
INPI is to be lauded for making these new procedures available on schedule in spite of the ongoing pandemic, and well ahead of the 14 January 2023 deadline for all EU member states to put in place (if not already available) efficient administrative trade mark cancellation procedures comparable to those available before the EUIPO. This is a requirement under the latest version of the EU directive which brought in a number of reforms aimed at harmonising trade mark laws across EU member states.
The French PTO now has exclusive jurisdiction for actions based on absolute grounds or invalidity for non-use. No interest to act is required from the demanding party. The office shares jurisdiction with courts regarding actions based on relative grounds of invalidity. The courts remain competent when there is a connected issue of unfair competition, and remain exclusively competent regarding infringement actions, and investigative, interim or provisional measures.