A patent is a legal title that can be granted for any invention having a technical character, provided that it is new, involves an ‘inventive step’, and is susceptible to industrial application. Patentable inventions can usually be a product (e.g. an object, chemical or device) or a process (i.e. a method of making something).
Patents grant their owner the right to prevent others from making, using or selling the invention without permission. The term of protection afforded by a patent is limited in time – in most jurisdictions, patent protection lasts for 20 years. Patents are territorial titles, meaning that the exclusive rights granted are only valid and enforceable in the jurisdiction(s) where the patent has been secured.
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Frequently Asked Questions
General information about patents
A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. A patent prevents an invention from being commercially made, used, distributed or sold without the patent owner's consent. Patents shall be protected by registrations.
Yes, foreigners, individuals and companies are allowed to register innovation patents in their own name. However, those who do not have a registered address in China will necessarily need the assistance of a local patent attorney.
Innovation patent protection in China begins after the patent is granted. There is no protection during the registration process. However, since this process can take up to six years, companies normally do a parallel registration of the innovation patent and utility model of the invention.
Utility models are normally granted within one year, giving protection for the invention until the patent is granted. Once the innovation patent is approved, the utility model is discarded.
If you want patent protection in more than one EU Member State, it is possible to file patent applications directly in each of the national patent offices of the countries where you seek protection. Another option that you have is to use the European Patent Convention (EPC), which allows you to register patents in more than one European country through a single application. In this way, even though you file only one patent application, you will be granted as many patents (usually called European patents) as the number of countries you have designated. These patents are then treated as national patents in each of the designated countries. You will find information on the countries where this procedure is available here.
For further information on the procedure to file a patent under the European Patent Convention, we suggest that you consult the following links:
(i) Guide for Applicants, prepared by the EPO
(ii) Information on how to apply for a European Patent, also prepared by the EPO
Please note that filing a patent application is highly technical and has important implications in terms of cost and time.
Therefore, we encourage you to seek legal advice before taking the decision to submit any patent application.
The Unitary Patent is a single European patent with unitary effect in the 25 EU Member States which have engaged in an enhanced cooperation to this effect. The Unitary Patent is granted by the EPO under the rules and procedures of the European Patent Convention. In order to obtain a unitary effect, patent holders need to request the unitary effect at the European Patent Office (EPO) within one month of the date of publication of the patent grant in the European Patent Bulletin.
The Unitary patent may be requested from the date of entry into force of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court. This Agreement was signed by 25 EU Member States and will need to be ratified by at least 13 Member States, including France, Germany and Italy, in order to enter into force.
The start of the new system is currently expected for the beginning of 2022.
The grace period is a period of time before the filing date of a patent/ utility model/ design application during which public disclosure of an invention (under certain conditions) is allowed without affecting the validity of a subsequent patent/ utility model/ design application, provided that a complete application is filed within 6 or 12 months of the disclosure.
The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international patent filing system that allows the PCT to file patents in each of the 148 Member States. Some of the advantages are that it reduces costs and simplifies the application process, while the end part of the registration process should be managed country-by-country.
Patent applications in different countries
Application fee: General: EUR 43 - EUR 63. Natural person, Micro and Small companies: EUR 17- EUR 25
Examination fee: General: Less than 10 claims: EUR 142. Each claim between the 11th and 15th: EUR 25. Each claim between the 16th and 30th: EUR 50. Each claim exceeding the 31st: EUR 125. Natural person, micro and small companies: Less than 10 claims: EUR 57. Each claim between the 11th and 15th: EUR 10. Each claim between the 16th and 30th: EUR 20. Each claim exceeding the 31st: EUR 50
Please take into account that these amounts do not include other costs (such as drafting, translations, representative's fees, etc.) that you may incur during the registration procedure.
Mexico is a member of the Patent Cooperation Treaty. Henc, EU SMEs could benefit from the advantages of filing an international PCT application.
Except for Myanmar, all the ASEAN countries are members of the PCT (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam).
The basic fees (charged by the IPOS) for patent registration in Singapore are comprised of (i) Application Fees of SGD 160 (EUR 106), (ii) Search and Examination Fees, which vary from SGD 1350 to 3000 (EUR 894 to 1988), depending on the search and examination routes selected, and (iii) Granting Fees of SGD 200 (EUR 133). This does not include legal fees!
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