Published on : 03 June 20203 min reading time

A project to set up a company starts with an idea. It must be protected. However, it is important to know that there is no possible protection for the idea itself. In fact, it is its materialization that must be protected (software, trademarks, models, invention,). To do so, the entrepreneur asserts his “intellectual property right”. The latter is subdivided into two categories: copyright and industrial property rights. This article takes stock of these rights, which everyone who wants to protect his idea of creating a company must master.


The formalities necessary to benefit from protection as industrial property are carried out at the INPI (National Institute of Industrial Property). There are three types of registration: patent, trademark and design or model. The patent registration gives its owner a monopoly of exploitation which can last up to 20 years. A product or service can be patented if it is a solution to a technical problem, stems from an inventive activity, is new and can be manufactured or used. A trademark can also be registered with the INPI. Protection in this case lasts 10 years. The condition for filing a trademark is that it must be original and distinctive. Finally, the registration of designs or models applies to the appearance of a product or its decoration. It is also filed at the INPI and is valid for 5 years. The design must be different from those already published.

Copyright differs from patents in that it only protects “works of the mind”, i.e. intangible, intellectual and moral properties. However, it should be pointed out that software is one of them. Unlike patents, there are no special formalities required. However, it is strongly advised to gather evidence to prove that the property of the creation is yours. To gather this evidence, you can make a deposit with a bailiff (or a notary), or with the INPI. Some companies can also take care of the distribution of these rights.


The best tool for protecting ideas is always discretion. If your idea is innovative, remain as discreet as possible until it becomes a reality. Entrepreneurs lacking imagination, there are many of them around!   But what do you do when you need to talk about them? It is possible to have recourse to the intervention of a specialised lawyer to legally lock up your project.