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Tips on patents

If a company or a physical person authors a previously inexistent technical invention, they have the right to request an exclusivity of use and a protection for their creation. No invention is indeed safe from theft or from different types of counterfeiting. Filing a patent allows its owner to possess exclusive rights to his invention for a determined period of time.

What is a patent? | How patents are protected in Greece? | How to register a patent internationally | What to check before you start? |

What is a patent?

A legal protection tool
A patent is an exclusive right granted by the State for a limited period of time and concerning a novel invention which involves an inventive step and is capable of industrial application. Filing a patent allows its author to have an exclusive right to his or her invention. Whether an individual or a legal entity, the inventor is the only one to decide on the use of his invention or indeed on his own exclusive use it. He is entitled to authorize or prohibit the use of his invention.
A trade weapon
A patent is a strategic weapon allowing a company to strengthen its market position, especially in innovative sectors, to capitalize on its invention by limiting its use by other parties, to benefit from the sources of income represented by the sale of use licences and to defend itself against the competition from similar inventions or from counterfeiting.

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How are patents protected in Greece?

Current legislation
Patents are protected in Greece for a period of 20 years under Law No. 1733/1987 on Technology transfer, inventions and technological innovation as amended by Art. 18 of Law No. 1739/1987 and Presidential Decree No. 54/1992.
Registration procedures
The Article 22 of the Law on Technology Transfer, Inventions and Technical Innovation describes the registration procedures of the Contract on Technology Transfer. The contract on technology transfer shall be submitted to the Hellenic Industrial Property Organisation (OBI) by the contracting parties which have their domicile or seat in Greece, within one month from its conclusion and at the same time the dispositions of Law No. 1306/83 (Official Journal No. 65) apply. The contract shall be registered in the register of technology transfer.

For more information you can consult the OBI guide How to acquire Patents.
At the European level
For the moment, we speak about European Patents, since the notion of a Community patent remains unsubstantiated.

The European Patent Office (EPO) is responsible for collecting the applications for protection from Member States. The application may be filed online on EPO’s Website. At the end of this procedure, a European patent is granted, which is divided into national patents, governed by the law of each State. For more information, please consult the OBI guide: How to get a European patent.

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How to register a patent internationally?

Your needs
Patent is a territorial right and only grants you rights in the country where it has been filed. However, the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, signed on March 20, 1883 in Paris, established a union between the contracting states, based on which the nationals of any contracting state enjoy the same rights in the matter of industrial property as those of others states party to the Convention. The list of the contracting member countries is available on the WIPO website.

There are several methods of filing a patent in a foreign country. Firstly, it is useful to decide in how many countries should your patent be filed. Based on this, you will choose the most appropriate method.
Filing locally
It is preferable that you file at the national intellectual property office of your target country. The World Intellectual Property Organisation offers a directory of local intellectual property offices from all over the world. However, this solution is only possible for a very limited number of countries, since it represents significant financial cost and requires numerous administrative procedures, as well as a translation of the patent into each of the national languages.
Regional filing
You wish to file your patent in several countries belonging to the same regional intellectual property organisation. Filing with a regional office is a simpler alternative to the previous one. The application must only be filed once, in a limited number of languages and it is valid either for all the member countries of this organisation, or only for some of them, depending on your needs. However, the targeted states must validate your request in order for it to become effective.
International filing
The targeted countries are numerous are spread out throughout the whole world. In this case, you have the possibility to use an international procedure, which can lead to the filing of several national or international patents. This procedure is based on the Patent Cooperation Treaty and concerns the countries party to it.

The application must be filed in a single language at the intellectual property office of your own country, which will then transmit it to the WIPO.

The registration at the national level is completed upon the filing of translations of the patent application in each of the chosen countries’ national language, by the payment of the required fees and by the appointment of a local representative.

For more information on the international registration of a patent in Greece, see the "Patents and Utility Models" guide on the O.B.I. website. Greece is a signatory of the Strasbourg Agreement concerning the International Patent Classification. This is a hierarchical system of language-independent symbols used for the classification of patents and utility models, according to the different technology areas to which they belong. The international classification has only an administrative nature, each country being free to assign to it the legal scope appropriate to its needs.

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What to check before you start?

The innovative step
In order to be patentable, an invention must meet specific criteria: it must show an element of novelty, an inventive step and must have potential industrial application. For more information, see the WIPO's definition of a patent.
You must also check that the invention for which you are seeking a patent has not already been described by someone else before you. Most intellectual property offices offer a patent research facility directly on their website. You can use the different services of the WIPO:
You can also visit the National Patent Register on the O.B.I.’s website and the Europe’s network of patent databases portal on the European Patent Organisation’s website.

The budget
Filing a patent application represents a financial cost, as well as extra workload (administrative management of the applications, monitoring of counterfeits, legal protection of your patent rights). Make sure you have the financial and human resources necessary to monitor your patent or your patent portfolio.

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