The appearance of products is protected by "designs and models", "designs" referring to two-dimensional graphic elements and "models" referring to three-dimensional graphic elements.
Protection by designs and models applies to the appearance of a wide variety of products. This appearance concerns all or part of a product. It should be characterised by visual elements, for example its lines, its outlines, its colours, its shape, its texture or the materials used. These characteristics may be those of the product itself or of its ornamentation. Ornamentation refers to the product's decorative elements.
By filing a design or a model with the National institute of industrial property (INPI), the applicant obtains an operating monopoly on the French territory for a maximum period of 5 years which may be extended in 5-year periods, up to a maximum period of 25 years. The applicant is therefore the only person authorised to use and benefit from its creation. He/she can also defend him/herself against, in particular, counterfeiters who may reproduce or copy it.
There are several ways of requesting protection of designs and models.
Source : Institut national de la propriété industrielle (site INPI : http://www.inpi.fr)