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France: Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights

(Dec. 2, 2007) France's Law 2007-1544 of October 29, 2007, on the Fight Against Infringement implements Directive 2004/48EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April, 2004, on the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights. The Directive addresses "the measures, procedures and remedies to ensure the enforcement of intellectual property rights," which include industrial property rights for the purposes of the Directive. (2004 O.J. (L157) 45.)

The Law covers community designs, patents, semi-conductors, plant breeder rights, trademarks, geographical indications, and copyright. It sets forth accelerated and simplified procedures to prevent or stop infringement acts. To assess damages, the competent court must take into consideration "the negative economic consequences, including lost profits that the injured party suffered, the profits realized by the infringer and the mental distress caused to the right holder by the infringer." As an alternative, upon request of the injured party, the court may "award a lump sum which cannot be lower than the amount of royalties or fee due if the infringer had requested the authorization to use the intellectual right in question." (Loi 2007-1544 du 29 octobre 2007 de lutte contre la contrefaçon, JOURNAL OFFICIEL [France's Official Gazette], Oct. 30, 2007, at 17775.)

The Law also amends the Code of Judicial Organization. It states that specially designated Tribunaux de Grande Instance (courts of general competence) will be competent to hear cases on the enforcement of intellectual property rights. Infringement is punishable by a maximum penalty of three years of imprisonment and a €300,000 fine (about US$441,000). The penalty is increased to five years and a €500,000 fine when the offense is committed by an organized gang or when the products concerned are dangerous for the health and security of mankind or animals. Finally, the Law punishes violations of intellectual property rights, whether or not they are carried out on a commercial scale. (Id.)