Patents and Utility Models
Patent protection is an effective business tool that allows its holders to return the funds invested in research and development of new products and technologies through a kind of monopoly on the use of a protected technical solution for the duration of the patent protection periodA patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention offering a new solution to a technical problem. A patent is granted for inventions relating to a product, process, apparatus or use.
The patent provides the owner with the exclusive right to make, use, market or sell the invention protected by the patent during a limited period.
A patent constitutes property which may be granted for use during the term of patent protection by the owner to other persons by granting a license, or they may transfer it entirely to other persons.
The substantial conditions that an invention shall fulfil in order for its patent to be granted are a novelty in relation to the existing technical solutions, inventiveness (i.e. not being obvious to the person skilled in the art) and industrial applicability (i.e. practical applicability in the industry).
In order to obtain patent protection for an invention, the applicant is required to disclose the technical details of the invention in the patent procedure to the extent that it enables the person skilled in the relevant art to make or use the invention. Such a description of the invention becomes, after a certain prescribed period of confidentiality, publicly available to all interested parties.
Patent Protection ProcedureInventions may be protected by patents in the Republic of Croatia on a national level, where the decision on grant is made by the State Intellectual Property Office (hereinafter: the Office), or on a regional level, where the decision on grant is made by the European Patent Office, with the patent thus granted being subsequently validated by the Office in the Croatian Patent Register, making it equal to a patent obtained on a national level.
The procedure begins by filling an application. A patent application consists of:
- a request for the grant of a patent
- a description of the invention
- drawings – where the invention may be appropriately displayed in drawings
- an abstract – a short summary of the concept of the invention providing technical information.
Along with the patent application, the Office also publishes a search report in the official gazette of the State Intellectual Property Office.
The published patent application becomes available to the public, whereby the content of the invention is included in the so-called state of the art, and every interested person has the right to access the application. Following the publication of the application and the search report, the procedure is continued only on condition that the applicant subsequently files a request for substantive examination of requirements for the grant of a patent. If the request for substantive examination is not filed within the prescribed time limit, or the appropriate procedural charges of the examination are not paid, the Office will issue a decision on rejection of the patent application.
After the request for a substantive examination is filed, the Office will conduct an appropriate follow-up procedure of examining the contents of the patent application. The procedure may result in either the patent for the invention being granted, if the prescribed conditions have been met, or rejected if the conditions have not been met. It is important to note that, prior to making a final decision on the rejection of the patent application, the applicant has the opportunity to amend the application or submit additional arguments within the limits prescribed by law in order to obtain a positive outcome.
Utility modelThe new Patent Act (Official Gazette No 16/20) introduced the use of the utility model. In comparison with the standard patent protection, the utility model registration process is faster, simpler, cheaper, more suitable for simpler inventions, as well as for individual inventors and small and medium-sized enterprises.
The law prescribes limitations in terms of protection by having the utility model refer exclusively to a product that shall not be an invention in the field of biotechnology, a chemical or pharmaceutical substance or an invention the commercial exploitation of which would be contrary to public order or morals, nor an invention relating to a process. Another limitation is the number of claims it may contain, which is a maximum of ten.
The registration is performed without examination of the novelty, inventiveness and industrial applicability of the invention.
The registration procedure begins with the filing of an utility model application. After the examination, the Office issues a decision on registration or rejection of the application of the utility model. Another difference in relation to the standard patent application is that the application of the utility model is not published, but the registered right is published in the official gazette of the State Intellectual Property Office.
It is possible to conduct a substantive examination of the utility model at the request of the holder, which may be filed no later than the seventh year of duration of the utility model. Patent protection issued on the basis of a substantive examination is valid for up to 20 years from the date of filing the patent application, and protection of a utility model up to 10 years from the date of filing the utility model application. For keeping the rights from the application and the patent / utility model valid, a prescribed annual maintenance cost fee shall be paid. Otherwise, the protection will end immediately upon the annual cost payments becoming due, prior to the expiration of the stated protection time limits. With regard to inventions in specific technological fields (medicinal or plant protection products), the patent protection may be extended by means of a supplementary protection certificate.
In Croatia, you can also file patent and utility model application online using the “e-Prijava” (e-Filing) service of the State Intellectual Property Office, whereby, apart from having the application procedure efficiently performed, its costs are reduced.
With the e-Fee system, taxpayers can pay prescribed fees and charges, instead of state stamps or payment slip, faster and simpler through their bank cards (for a current account, giro account or credit card) such as Visa, Maestro, MasterCard and Diners.
Regional (European) Patent ProtectionThe patent grant procedure conducted by the European Patent Office (EPO) provides regional-level protection applicable to the member states of the European Patent Organization
The regional patent system allows the filing of a single patent application in one place, with simultaneous legal effect in several countries.
Read more on how to obtain a European patent on the website of the State Intellectual Property Office