Patents of Invention

– Law 4325/1963, “On National Defense Patents and Amendment to Patent Law No. 2527/1920”.
– Law 1023, February 16, 1980.
– Law 1607/1986, ratifying the European Convention.
– Law 1733/1987, providing for the establishment of the Organization of Industrial Property (OIP).
– Decree 77/1988, implementing provisions of EPC.
– Law 1883/1990, ratifying the Patent Cooperation Treaty (without Chapter II).
– Decree 45/1991, implementing EEC Directive 87/54 of December 16, 1986, as supplemented by EEC Directives 87/532 and 88/311, relating to the legal protection of the topographies of semiconductor products.
– Law 2359/21, November 1995, providing for the extension of the duration of patents to twenty years.
– EC Regulation No. 1610 of July 23, 1996, relating to Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs) for plant protection products.
– EC Regulation No. 469/2009 of May 6, 2009, relating to Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs) for medicinal products.
– Law 3396/2005, ratifying EPC 2000.
– Decision No. 50726 of the General Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, published in the Official Journal of the Hellenic Republic B 739/20.06.2006, introducing a new section for the hearing of industrial property cases at the Athens Court of First Instance.
– Ministerial Decision No. 11475/08 of June 13, 2008, published in the Official Gazette on June 25, 2008, setting the conditions under which the duration of the protection of a Supplementary Protection Certificate concerning paediatric pharmaceuticals can obtain a six-month extension.
– Ministerial Decision No. 10374/04.08.2009, allowing the possibility of requesting a written opinion on the search report.
– Law 3966/2011, implementing EEC Directive 2004/48 of April 29, 2004, on the enforcement of intellectual property rights.
– Presidential Decree No. 46/23.04.2012, amending Presidential Decree 77/1988 in application of the Act revising the Convention on the Grant of European Patents of November 29, 2000 that was ratified with Law 3396/2005.
– Law 4144/2013 (GG 88 A’/18.4.2013), “Fight against delinquency in Social Insurance System in labor market and other dispositions falling under the competence of the Ministry of Labor, Social Insurance and Welfare”, Art. 79, “Regulatory issued of the Hellenic Industrial Property Organisation”.
– Ministerial Decision No. 12625/1/2014 on Electronic distribution of documents to and from the Industrial Property Organisation (OBI) and electronic filing of industrial design or model registration.
– Regulation (EU) 2019/933 of the European Parliament and of the Council of May 20, 2019 amending Regulation (EC) No. 469/2009 concerning the Supplementary Protection Certificate for medicinal products.

Membership in International Conventions

– Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), since March 4, 1976.
– Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, Stockholm Act since July 15, 1976.
– The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents (Apostille), since May 18, 1985.
– European Patent Convention (October 7, 1992: Termination of the reservation entered by Greece under Article 167 EPC (1973)).
– Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), since October 9, 1990.
– Budapest Treaty, as ratified by Law 2128/6.4.1993.
– WTO’s TRIPS Agreement, ratified by Law No. 2290/1995, having effect from January 1, 1995.
– Adherence to Chapter II of the PCT Treaty by Law 2385/5.3.1996.
– Strasbourg Agreement Concerning the International Patent Classification, since October 21, 1997.

Filing

Applicant: the person who first files an application – the inventor or his assignee (an individual, firm or corporation).

Foreigners and nationals not living in the country: both must retain a local attorney.

Kinds of patents: (1) principal patents; (2) patents of addition.

Amendment of application: correction of errors in the documents possible within four months from the filing date.

Novelty: absolute novelty.

Exceptions to protection: (a) discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods; (b) aesthetic creations; (c) schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers; (d) presentation of information; (e) methods for treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy; (f) diagnostic methods practiced on the human or animal body. However, products and in particular non-pharmaceutical substances or compositions for use in methods under (e) and (f) are patentable; (g) inventions the publication or exploitation of which would be contrary to public order or morality; (h) plant or animal varieties or biological processes for the production of plants or animals; this provision does not apply to microbiological processes or the products thereof. As of October 8, 1992, date of the termination of the reservation entered by Greece under Article 167(2)(a) (EPC 1973), pharmaceuticals per se are patentable. It is possible to obtain per se pharmaceutical claims even if a priority date earlier than October 7, 1992 is claimed.

Priority: Paris Convention, Stockholm Act since July 15, 1976 applies. Priority can also be claimed on the basis of an application in a Member Country of the World Trade Organization. If an orderly patent application or application for grant of a utility model certificate has been filed abroad, the applicant or its beneficiary is entitled to claim priority, provided that, within twelve months from the filing date, he/she files an application in Greece for the same invention and that the condition of reciprocity applies. The date, number and country of first filing must be stated in the application. The right of priority goes back to the date of the first filing abroad.

Filing requirements for an application (to be sent to local agent):
1. Full name, nationality, domicile and profession of the applicant; if a corporate body, its kind;
2. Naming of the inventor(s);
3. Power of attorney, to be signed by the applicant. A single general power of attorney simply signed by the applicant or the authorized representative of the company (in case the applicant is a legal entity), is sufficient for all patent applications filed in the name of the same applicant, simultaneously or separately. If the power is executed on behalf of a firm or a company, the name and capacity of the signatory should be expressly stated;
4. Specification with claims and an abstract not exceeding 150 words in English, French or German accompanied by a translation into the Greek language; written on one side of the paper only;
5. Drawings; size 30 x 20 cm; with a free margin of 2 cm all around;
6. Priority document in Convention cases. Translation of the entire document is required;
7. Assignment of priority rights legalized either by the Greek Consulate or by Apostille, if the Greek application is filed with a claim to Convention priority in the name of someone other than the applicant for the basic patent. For U.S. applicants a certified copy of the U.S. assignment is sufficient;
8. Extract from the Register of Commerce reflecting the applicant company’s incorporation and its legal representative legalized by Apostille;
9. Copy of the company’s Articles reflecting its legal representative (if this detail is not reflected in the extract from the Register of Commerce) legalized by Apostille;
10. Assignment of inventor’s rights legalized by Apostille, if the application is filed in the name of someone other than the inventor.

Minimum requirements on filing date: the initial application must be accompanied by specification, claims and abstract only. All other documents may be filed later.

Time frame for filing the supporting documents: four months from the date of filing in Greece in non-Convention cases. In Convention cases the priority document can be filed either within four months from the date of filing in Greece or within sixteen months from the date of filing in the country of origin. These terms are not extendible.

Request for search: within four months from the filing date. The applicant has the option of requesting a written opinion on the search report.

Electronic filing: available.

Electronic signatures: are accepted if in accordance with the provisions of the eIDAS regulation and bear the related format. Further, scanned copies of wet signed documents are accepted and the subsequent submission of the original is not required, however, it is advisable to keep the original in case the relevant authority requests it at a later date.

PCT applications: Greece can be designated only for a European patent, since only a European patent (and not a national patent) can be obtained via the PCT route for this country. The European Patent Office acts as designated/elected Office for Greece, which does not act in the capacity of designated/elected country under Chapter I and II of the PCT. The Greek Patent Office can act as a receiving Office for the filing of an International patent application. For reasons of national security, the law requires that an International patent application is filed with the Greek Patent Office, if the applicant is a Greek citizen and provided that no priority for an earlier Greek application is claimed. The time limit for entering the regional phase under Chapters I and II of the PCT is that of the European Patent Office, i.e. 31 months.

European patent applications: the Greek Patent Office can act as a receiving Office for the filing of a European patent application. For reasons of national security, the law requires that a European patent application is filed with the Greek Patent Office, if the applicant is a Greek citizen and provided that no priority for an earlier Greek application is claimed.

Examination Procedure

Novelty examination: after the examination as to formalities, the Industrial Property Organisation (OBI) shall draft a search report, if requested by the applicant in due time, with all state of the art data. The search report is notified to the applicant who is entitled to comment on it within three months from the notification. After the three-month period, OBI will draft its final search report, which will be made available to the public along with the patent application. The patent is however granted regardless of the contents of the search report. The search report is attached to the Letters Patent document.

Amendments: within four months from the filing date, the applicant must submit any missing drawings or other supporting documents, complete any missing data and correct any eventual errors in the draft of the documents and of other supporting documentation.

Divisional applications: if the application relates to several inventions, up to the date of grant of the patent the applicant may divide the application into more than one divisional applications, maintaining the filing date of the initial application as the filing date of each divisional application.

Secrecy: the patent application as well as the documentation attached thereto are made available to the public eighteen months after the filing date or the priority date, unless the patent is granted earlier. In such a case they are made available to the public on the date of grant of the patent.

Registration, Protection

The patent is granted after the issuance and publication of the final search report.

Publication: after the date of grant, the patent file is laid open to public inspection and copies thereof are available on request. A summary of the patent is published in the Official Gazette.

Opposition: is not provided for.

Beginning of protection: the day following the application date.

Duration of protection: twenty years for patents filed after January 1, 1988.

Extension of duration: following the ratification of the GATT Agreements and the implementation by separate law of the provisions relating to the twenty-year duration of patents, the term of patents which are valid on January 1, 1996 can be extended until the completion of twenty years following the date of the patent application. No formality is required for the extension. The extension will be automatic by payment of the 16th annuity and onwards.

Validation of invalidated patents: not possible.

Annuities: annuities must be paid each year up to the last day of the month corresponding to the date on which the application was filed. Annuities are due also for pending applications beginning with the third year. The minimum time period for paying renewal fees due at the validation is two months.

Annuity grace period: six months from the due date with fine.

Annulment: after the term of payment has expired, the Patent Office proceeds to the annulment of the patent and to the publication of the Annulment Act in the Official Bulletin. After such publication, restoration of the patent is not possible.

Working: not compulsory under Greek Law.

Nominal working: does not justify lack of actual working and does not help the patentee to avoid a possible compulsory license, nor does the offer to license. Under the new Law (2359/95) importation from countries of the European Union and from countries of the World Trade Organization will satisfy the working requirements, as well as manufacture in any European Union member State.

Assignment: assignment deed executed by assignor and assignee, with power of attorney incorporated (legalized by Greek Consul or Apostille).

License for exploitation: registration necessary.

Amendment of issued patents: not possible.

Conversion of a patent application into a utility model application: the applicant of a patent application can, either upon filing the patent application, or prior to the grant of the patent request the conversion of the patent application into a utility model application. In any case, the patent application is automatically converted into a utility model application if the applicant does not pay the search fees in time.

Marking of patented goods: not compulsory, but advisable.

Modification of Protection after Granting

Rights of prior user: any person, who, prior to the application date or priority date, is already using the invention or at that time has made the necessary preparations therefore, may continue to use the invention for his enterprise and its needs. Such prior user’s right may only be transferred together with the business.

Nullification: a patent shall be declared null by court decision if: (a) the owner of the patent is not its inventor or its assignee or its beneficiary according to Article 6, paragraphs 4, 5, and 6; (b) the invention is not patentable in accordance with Article 5; (c) the specification attached to the patent is insufficient to be carried out by a person skilled in the art; (d) the subject matter of the granted patent extends beyond the content of the protection, as requested in the application. The nullification action shall be brought before the competent civil court. If the nullification is brought only against part of the invention, the patent is restricted accordingly.

Compulsory license: after four years from the date of filing or three years from the grant, any third party may demand the concession of a compulsory license based on lack of or insufficient exploitation of the patented invention within the Community. The compulsory license is granted by a three-Member Court. No compulsory license shall be granted if the patent owner can justify the failure to work the invention. Imports of the product will not constitute a justification. For reasons of public health or national defense, the Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology may rule that compulsory licenses shall be granted in favor of bodies of the public sector on patents which have not been exploited in Greece or when production is insufficient to cover local needs. A compulsory license shall be granted on provision that reasonable royalties are paid.

Disputes about ownership – disputes about novelty: before the court only after issue of the patent.

Infringement: the following activities may be considered patent infringement activities, if performed without the consent of the patentee: (a) in case of a patented product, the manufacture, the offering or the bringing into the trade of the patented product, the use and possession of the patented product for any of these purposes, and the importation of the patented product; and (b) in case of a patented process, the application of the process and the offering or making available in the market of the process, and the manufacture, offering or bringing into the trade, as well as the use or possession for any such purpose, of a product directly resulting from the patent protected process, and the importation of such product.

Penalties: according to the provisions of the Patent Law, whoever places on products or on their wrapping, or on any kind of commercial documents destined for the public or on other relevant published or advertising material a false statement that the objects in question are protected by a patent, shall be punished by up to one year of imprisonment or by fine or by both penalties.

Enforcement: infringement actions can be brought before the competent courts by the patent owner, an exclusive licensee, in the case of co-owners they can bring infringement actions independently and for owners of a patent application – the court may postpone the trial until the patent is granted.

Rights derived from a European Patent

Greece can be a designated country in a European Patent. Grant of a European Patent in which Greece is designated confers the same rights as grant of a Greek Patent.

Implementation of the Convention granting European Patents: the provisional protection of Article 67 (3) of the Convention is granted only when an appropriate Greek translation of the claims of the application has been filed with and published by OBI. Issued European Patents are valid in Greece only if the patentee files with OBI a Greek translation of the specification, claims and abstract (as well as of the drawings, if any) within a period of three months from the date of publication of the mention of grant in the official Journal of the EPO. This term cannot be extended. The Greek translation cannot take place after expiry of said term.

Within three months of the date of publication of the announcement of the decision on the limitation or revocation of a European patent in the European Patent Bulletin, the proprietor of the European patent is required to file the certified translation of the text (abstract, specification, claims, drawings, if any) on the basis of which the EPO limited or revoked the European patent designating Greece with OBI.

Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCS)

A. for Plant Protection Products:

European Community Regulation No. 1610/96 regarding Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs) for Plant Protection Products entered into force on February 8, 1997, by virtue of Ministerial Decision No. 30560/544.

The application must be filed with the Patent Office (OBI) within six months from the date the authorization to place the product on the market as a plant protection product was granted, or from the date the patent was granted, if the authorization is granted before the basic patent is granted. Supporting documents must be filed within four months from the application date.

SPCs for a Plant Protection Product confer the same rights as conferred by the basic patent and are subject to the same limitations and obligations.

For Medicinal Products:

A system for the granting of Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs) for Medicinal Products came into effect on January 2, 1998.

This system is based on European Community Council Regulation No. 1768/92 of June 18, 1992 (Council Regulation 469/2009).

The procedure for issuance of SPCs for Medicinal Products is essentially the same as that of SPCs for Plant Protection Products. The application must be filed with the Patent Office (O.B.I.) within six months from the date the authorization to place the product on the market as a medicinal product was granted. Authorization to place the product on the market is granted by the Greek Pharmaceutical Organization.

B.1 For Paediatric Pharmaceuticals:

Ministerial Decision No. 11475/08 sets the conditions under which the duration of the protection of a Supplementary Protection Certificate concerning paediatric pharmaceuticals can obtain a six-month extension. The extension can be obtained by filing an application with the Greek Patent Office. Said application may be filed: (a) together with the application for the grant of an SPC; (b) after the filing of an application for the grant of an SPC and before the grant takes place; (c) if the SPC has already been granted, the application for the extension may be filed two years before the expiry of the granted SPC at the latest.

The same Ministerial Decision provides for a transition period of five (5) years from the entry into force of EU Regulation EC/1901/2006, namely until January 26, 2012. Until said date the aforementioned application for an extension may be filed six months before the expiry of the granted SPC at the latest.

In order for an application for extension to be filed, the following are required: (1) all the details supplied until today for an SPC application (as referred to in Art. 8 of Regulation EC/1768/1992); (2) a copy of the statement indicating compliance with an agreed paediatric investigation plan (as referred to in Art. 36 par. 1 of Regulation EC/1901/2006); (3) proof that the pharmaceutical product in question is authorized in all member States (as referred to in Art. 36 par. 3 of Regulation EC/1901/2006); (4) where an SPC application is pending, an application for an extended duration must also include a reference to the application already filed; (5) if an SPC has already been granted a copy thereof must be submitted.