Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Online Filing Woes - get thee away Satan

It seems that life is full of little setbacks at the moment, what with my previous rant on French PTO fax machines and now my latest encounter with the French trademark filing authorities. Being of moderately good cheer despite the wintry weather, I thought I'd cock a snoop at the snow falling outstide my office today and attempt to file a trademark online via the INPI's spankingly refurbished website (which is an ultimately very frustrating experience, but more of that later).

Aside from the fact that you have to trawl through several pages of information which are more or less useful depending on the extent of your trademark knowledge, I can safely say that online trademark filing via the INPI is not at all obviously pointed out on its web site, and the overall impression that this gives is that the INPI is only really looking to attract the absolutely motivated individual who has time to spare, or the professional who has finally exclaimed "at last" when the link to the online filing section of the site is found. Just to make it easier for anyone reading this blog, the current address is :

For the non-French speakers there are several alternative languages for the interface available, one of which being English, but it has to be said that some of the translations of the fields into which data is to be entered appear somewhat... unusual, to the native English speaker. In any event, the non-French user is forewarned in advance that the application will have to be filed in French come what may, or else it will be rejected. This doesn't appear obvious to the English speaking user until you have filled in the applicant and contact details and actually get around to typing in the definition of classes and goods and services for which protection is sought. The page where you fill in these details is entirely in French, which I suppose stands to reason seeing as the aim is to file a French trademark application after all. However, considering that the trademark classification system also exists in English, it would have been a nice touch to provide that translation as a guide to the would-be non-francophonic applicant.

After having selected your classes and associated products from the list, or having typed in your own definitions, one can then proceed to the "Special Cases" page, where it is possible to choose whether the application is linked to a renewal of an existing French trademark, to a divisional filing, to a collective certification mark, or to a claim to Paris Union priority.

Once sorted, you can proceed to the signatory page, where the name and contact details of the person signing the application (aka the representative) are given. This then takes you to the form validation page, and from there onto the payment page (because online payment by credit/debit card, is also possible). However, this is where I came unstuck, and was doled out a rather terse error message :

Votre configuration actuelle ne vous permet pas de certifier le formulaire
Acrobat NaN
Java Sun Microsystems Inc. Version : 1.6.0_20
Système d'exploitation Linux
Navigateur Accepté

Which basically means that my computer setup did not allow for certification of the form. Hmm, I don't recall seeing any certification requests or the like indicating that a secure certificate was to be installed on my computer.

Whilst the INPI has helpfully indicated what the minimum computer software requirements are (via an icon click in a little corner of the screen), it still left me dumbfounded because my system actually meets all of those requirements, including the allegedly "absent from my system" Adobe Acrobat Reader. Thus stymied, I am given the option of saving all I have done so far, in which case you receive an access code in order to try again with the application data being stored temporarily (2 weeks) on the INPI's server - this function does actually work - or else saving the generated form to disk via the, wait for it, "unfindable" Adobe Acrobat Reader which opens up on clicking on the link to display the form and its relevant data...

So that basically was it. Stuck for now, other than filing 5 paper copies of the application via post and paying an extra 25€ filing fee, until someone, somewhere within the arcanes of INPI IT support can actually help me out (or not, as the case may be).

Deflated, but not defeated, I shall wait to hear from them to get to the bottom of the problem and report back. Sometimes you just can't beat those good old fax machines...(don't get me started on them again...)

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