Will trademark non-use due to quarantine be considered a valid reason?

Due to the current health situation, the majority of companies have reduced their activity. This suspension or reduction of activity will have an impact on all intellectual property and may in particular result in the non-use of the trademark by the owner, leading to its forfeiture.

In fact, in accordance with the French law, and more specifically Article L714-5 of the Intellectual Property Code, if a trademark is not used for an uninterrupted period of five years for the goods and services covered by the registration, the court may, order the revocation of the trademark and the cancellation of its registration, at the request of an interested third party

The holder must therefore ensure that there is genuine use during this five-year period, i.e. real exploitation.

Thus, owners of trademarks that had not been exploited before the health crisis and quarantine could not start or resume exploitation. This unprecedented period could therefore lead to a period of non-use of more than five years.

However, the trademark owner may invoke a valid reason justifying the absence of serious use. According to established case law, this just reason must have a direct link with the trademark, be a circumstance outside the control of the trademark owner which has made the use of the trademark impossible or excessively difficult.

Therefore, it seems that the court may consider the restrictions imposed by the Government because of the pandemic as a valid excuse for the non-use of the trademark by the owner. Indeed, this obstacle, which is external to the owner’s will and which has made the use of the trademark extremely difficult, may be qualified as a just cause which will prevent or should lessen the delay of a possible revocation of the trademark.