What is meant by intellectual property?
Intellectual property (IP) refers to all knowledge that has been created through intellectual creations, such as inventions, literature, artistic works, symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce. The term is commonly used to refer to both copyrights and industrial property rights (e.g., patents, utility models, designs, trademarks).
Intellectual property is an absolute right to intangible assets. Therefore, the term “intellectual property law” is often used synonymously when it comes to protecting inventions.
What types of intellectual property rights are there?
- Utility models
- Design patents
- Semiconductor protection
- Plant variety protection
Why should I protect my innovation?
- Protecting intellectual property or inventions means creating priority rights and a scope of protection for the inventor, thereby creating competitive advantages through exclusive use.
- Holding intellectual property rights can be a factor in building an image and showcasing a company’s innovation competence.
- By granting licenses, inventions can be exploited, and additional sources of income can be generated for a company.
What can I protect and how?
- If it is a technical invention: Patent or utility model
- If the shape/design should be protected: Design patent or design protection
- If the name or logo should be protected: Trademark
- If it should remain unnoticed by outsiders: Confidentiality
Other instruments of industrial property protection for inventions and innovations include copyright and unfair competition law (UWG); however, these do not involve formal registration procedures.
What is a patent?
Patents protect new technical solutions that are based on an inventive step and are industrially applicable. The examination ensures that patents are granted only for inventions that are actually worthy of patent protection. A patent represents a territorial and time-limited exclusion right (monopoly) and entitles the holder to exclude others from commercially producing, marketing, or using the subject matter of the invention. (Source: Austrian Patent Office)
Attention! There is no “world patent”!
If time is of the essence, you can use the Patent Fast Track. This is an accelerated online application. If you need a quick “birth date” for your patent, use the provisional patent application.
What are the differences between a patent and a utility model?
The utility model is functionally equivalent to a patent. However, since a utility model is not examined for novelty and inventive step, it carries a certain risk: Any formally correct application is registered, even if it is not new and inventive. In such cases, the registration can be canceled. (Source: Austrian Patent Office)
What determines the novelty of an invention?
The filing date is determined by the respective (national) patent law. Typically, it is the day on which the application is received in full by the patent office. The application is considered complete when it contains all the information/documents required by the relevant patent law. The invention must be new on the filing date, i.e., it must not correspond to the state of the art. If a priority is claimed, the priority date is decisive.
What can’t be patented?
The following cannot be protected (§ 1(2) PatG/GMG):
- discoveries, scientific theories, and mathematical methods
- the human body at the various stages of its formation and development
- the mere discovery of a component of the human body, including the sequence or partial sequence of a gene
- aesthetic creations
- plans, rules, and methods for mental activities, games, or business activities, as well as programs for data processing systems
- the reproduction of information
How can you find out if an invention is already protected?
Before submitting a patent application, you should research whether your invention already exists. If it does, no protection is possible. Numerous patent databases are available online (e.g., Austrian Patent Office, German Patent and Trademark Office, or European Patent Office). You can also commission the Austrian Patent Office to conduct a focused search.
What can be done in case of patent or utility model infringement?
If your patent or utility model is infringed, you can file a lawsuit at the Commercial Court of Vienna for injunction, destruction of the infringing objects or the tools and means necessary for their production, publication of the judgment, damages, disgorgement of profits, and compensation. It is advisable to consult an expert in patent law, as the legal consequences can be significant.
Who is considered the inventor when multiple individuals are involved in the invention?
If the invention is based on joint inventiveness, the co-inventors acquire joint ownership of the invention. The requirement is collaboration aimed at the same goal, namely the solution of a specific technical problem. The respective contributions do not have to have the same level of inventiveness. Also considered a co-inventor is someone who has contributed to the overall achievement through their own intellectual initiative. Sponsors and assistants are not considered co-inventors. An assistant does not make a substantial intellectual contribution based on their own initiative.
Where can I file my patent?
Here’s how you can file:
- Online (Requirements: Software and SmartCard): For online submission of national patents and utility models, you will need software and a SmartCard, including installation software and a card reader. You can obtain the package from the European Patent Office. Please follow the instructions at: http://www.epo.org/applying/online-services/online-filing/download_de.html. Submission at the Austrian Patent Office, at the customer center during opening hours. By mail (Dresdner Straße 87, 1200 Vienna).
Filing by email is not allowed!
How long is a patent valid?
How much does a patent application cost?
Cost of a national patent:
The cost for a patent application is 342 euros. On average, you should expect to pay at least 550 euros for a national patent application, including grant and publication (excluding patent attorney fees). The maximum duration of a patent is 20 years from the filing date. To maintain your patent, you must pay an annual fee starting from the sixth year, ranging from 104 euros to 1,775 euros in the twentieth and final year.
Cost of an international patent:
The cost for a European patent application is at least 4,300 euros. The cost for an international patent application is at least 2,800 euros (including search fee). The actual costs need to be determined on a case-by-case basis. They depend on the number of selected countries and can quickly amount to several thousand euros when filing in multiple countries.
How to protect software?
Every new software is automatically protected by copyright. In the Anglo-American legal system, it is referred to as “Copyright.” However, this form of intellectual property protection is relatively weak and can be easily circumvented. The method of software can only be patented or registered as a utility model if there are additional “technical components,” such as hardware, present. In the case of a utility model, the program logic alone can also be registered. (Source: Austrian Patent Office)
What is a trademark?
A trademark is a distinctive sign that identifies your goods and services from those of other providers. By registering your trademark, you can effectively protect it against unauthorized imitations, in an uncomplicated and indefinite manner. Trademarks can protect words, word and design elements, logos, graphic representations, and three-dimensional marks, among other things.
How much does a trademark application cost?
Costs for national trademark protection: The minimum cost for registering a national trademark is at least 280 euros, including three classes of goods or services (Nice Classification). Each additional class costs 75 euros. A renewal fee is required to extend the trademark protection. There are no annual fees for trademarks.
Costs for European Union trademark:
Three classes – 1,050 euros
Can I receive funding for the registration of my trademark?
The SME Fund of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) provides 75% funding for a national or EU-wide trademark and/or design registration, and 50% funding for an international application. The maximum grant amount is 1,500 euros per SME.
How long is my trademark protected?
(Source: Austrian Patent Office)