Inventions can be protected by the Spanish legal system through the following legal instruments that grant holders exclusive rights to patents, utility models, and industrial designs.
The patents seek to encourage investment in R+D and technological progress in a country. The State grants exclusive rights to an invention for a specified period, generally 20 years, in exchanged for a promise that the invention, after this period, will be admitted into the public domain and thus can benefit society as whole by virtue of the technical advantage provided by the invention.
The patent owner may exploit the invention and prevent third parties from exploiting, marketing or introducing the invention into the market without the owner’s consent. During this term, the third party may exploit the invention prior to the owner’s obtaining a license.
New inventions are patentable if they involve an inventive operation and are capable of industrial application.
Patents are granted for a period of 20 years from the date of application. However, to maintain the patent, it is necessary to pay an annual fee which is increased every year. After this period, the subject of the patent enters the public domain and may be used by any party. The Supplementary Protection Certification for plant protection products and pharmaceutical patents, in force since 1998, extends the patent term by up to a maximum of five years for the time it took to obtain the relevant administrative authorization required to market these products.
Finally, the reform of the Patent Act operated by Law 17/2009 of November 23, abolished the requirement for patent licenses and transfers to become public record, referring to the implementation of the regulation of Patent Law which further defined these formal requirements. This Regulation has been recently modified to harmonize the documentary requirements for the registration of transfers, licenses, property, name changes, and other modifications of rights for all types of industrial property thereby significantly reducing red tape.
This article is not considered as legal advice