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The Spanish Patent System

Spanish IP Office

The governmental agency in charge of handling intellectual property rights in Spain is the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (OEPM) located in Madrid. Spain is a member of both PCT and the Paris Convention, and the patent term is 20 years from the filing date.

Filing Patents in Spain

An application for a patent must contain the name and address of the applicant and the inventor, as well as the citizenship of the inventor and place of incorporation of the applicant, if applicable. The necessary elements of an application are: a title, a summary of the invention, a specification, claims, and any necessary drawings. In addition, any portion of the specifications not in Spanish must be accompanied by a Spanish translation.

A claim of foreign priority in Spain must contain the country where the application was first filed, the date of the filing and the filing number. In addition, an official copy of the priority document must be submitted, together with an assignment of the priority rights, in case that the priority document names another person.

Annual fees apply starting on the third year from the international filing date.

PCT National Stage in Spain

Spain is a signatory of the PCT and a member of the Paris Convention. Under Spanish law, entry to the national stage must be made within 30 months of the priority date of the PCT application. The national stage application must be translated into Spanish. The national stage application is not required to be accompanied by the PCT application. If the applicants for the PCT and national stage applications are different, the national stage application must include an assignment of the priority right or assignment of the international application. Applicants who are not residents of the European Union must appoint an agent, who must be a patent attorney appearing on a list maintained by the OEPM.

Recent IP Legal Trends in Spain

In 2011, 25 of the 27 member states of the European Union approved the establishment of a unitary patent where the grant of a patent covers the territory of all participants without translation into the local language. Spain is not a signatory to this agreement, so for the time being, EU unitary patents must still be translated into Spanish and filed with the OEPM to take effect. A 2006 law introduced the “Bolar clause” into Spanish law, whereby tests and trials performed to get market approval for generic medicines did not constitute patent infringement.

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