Spanish Patent Law traditionally has divided inventions in two groups: patents and utility models. The law establishes what should be considered in one group or other, but in many occasions it is the professional of the industrial property who, relying on his experience, determines which modality should be chosen.
Patents differ from utility models because they are considered “major” inventions. They have a duration of 20 years from the application date and they have what is known as “worldwide” novelty. It has to be requested for a Search Report issued by the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office and the Novelty Exam is optional.
Utility Models are “minor” inventions in the sense that they refer to tools, configurations, improvements, etc. Their duration is 10 years duration from the application date and they do not have any search or report. The novelty is “national” what means that if a document is issued abroad and has not been published or known in Spain, it will not affect the utility model’s novelty. The Doctrine wonders whether or not those documents (which are not in Spanish language) that are kept in the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (OEPM) Database must be considered as documents that affect the novelty. The procedure is the following: application – publication – opposition – and grant.
“Spain belongs to different international agreements (the PCT and the European Patent Convention), due to that, the applicants can file their patents under them.”
The PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) is a unique patent application that is managed by the WIPO office in Geneva. The advantage of this patent application is that it allows to block more than one hundred countries with only one unique application.
Subsequently, and depending on each country, the application can enter the national phase within the following 20 to 31 months. The term is calculated starting from the application date or the priority date (the first in time).
The European Patent is a patent that consolidates the member countries of the European Patent Convention. Differing from PCT Patent Application procedure, the European Patent Office grants or refuses the patent, or, in other words, it is not only a unique patent application which should be further granted by designated countries, but the patent has to be granted by European Patent Office and then validated by designated countries.
Community Patent should be mentioned apart. It is a project, it does not exist yet and many times it is confused with the European Patent.
At the “Forms” section you will find and can download a file that contains an individual Power of Attorney. You may also find a “General Power of Attorney” that allows its registration in the Trade marks and Patents Office so that no more Power of Attorney are necessary in the future.