The filing of a patent makes it possible to obtain an operating monopoly (for a maximum period of 20 years if filed in France with the National industrial property institute, the INPI). The applicant is the only person capable of using the patent and can prohibit the use, production, importing, etc. of the invention without his/her authorisation. He/she can sue counterfeiters before the courts. A patent is also a means of dissuasion. The obtaining of a patent requires the fulfilment of filing formalities.
There are several ways of requesting protection through patents.
Source : Institut national de la propriété industrielle (site INPI : http://www.inpi.fr)