Rights in a trademark are territorial rights obtained by making an application for registration. Thus, it is appropriate to apply for registration of the trademark in the country, or countries, where the designated products and services will be manufactured and/or commercialised. For French businesses, usually the trademark application is filed in France first of all. Six weeks after its filing date the French national trademark application is published. In the two months after publication, owners of earlier trademarks can oppose the registration of the trademark which is the object of the application. The opposition procedure is an administrative procedure which is handled by the INPI and, if the opposition is considered to be justified, can lead to the partial or total rejection of the application for registration. The opposition procedure takes 6 months. Owners of earlier trademarks who have not taken action in an opposition procedure can nevertheless take action later on to oppose the use of the later trademark, by bringing an infringement action – provided that they have not tolerated the use of the later trademark for 5 years or more. Similarly, owners of other distinctive signs (for whom the opposition procedure is not available) can, at any time, take action against the owner of a trademark which damages their rights. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to carry out searches for earlier conflicting rights before adopting a particular trademark. A trademark can also be the object of a Community trademark application, without any earlier application in France. A Community trademark application enables protection to be obtained in the 25 countries which are members of the European Union, via a single legal document. Once an application for registration of a trademark has been made in France, or at a Community level, the trademark application can be extended to other countries. If the foreign filings are made within a 6 month period (“the priority” period) beginning on the date of the initial filing, the trademark application in the foreign country benefits from the filing date of the original French or Community application. By making a single so-called “international” application, the trademark can be extended, at the applicant’s choice, to countries which have adhered to the international trademark system. These countries include: the European Union, the U.S.A., China, Japan and, soon, Canada. For countries which have not signed up to this “international” system, protection can be obtained by filing a national trademark application. Your French Intellectual Property Attorney will assist you in the choice of the protection which is best suited to your needs, at the most advantageous cost.