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Signing of an agreement to speed up and cheapen invention protection procedures for Slovenian companies

The signing of the Working Agreement between the Slovenian Intellectual Property Office and the European Patent Organisation on search co-operation will enable applicants to obtain quality information more quickly in patent grant procedures. Applicants for European and international patent applications will be able to obtain additional financial benefits for an invention that has been pre-examined by the European Patent Office.
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The recently adopted amendment to the Industrial Property Act allows the Intellectual Property Office to contract with other offices and organisations to provide new information services to the Office. Today's agreement enables national patent applicants to obtain quality information on whether their invention qualifies for a patent within a few months of filing their application.

The European Patent Organisation allows the offices with which it has such an agreement to conclude an additional agreement allowing certain applicants to benefit from financial incentives. In particular, the European Patent Office grants certain applicants (natural persons, universities and non-profit research institutions and small and medium-sized enterprises) a financial advantage of up to 80% of the service fee for a prior art search with a written opinion, when filed through an office with which it has an agreement, for up to 400 national patent applications per year.

Additional financial benefits could also be granted to applicants of a national patent application (for which a prior art search would already have been carried out by the European Patent Office), where they also file a European patent application under the European Patent Convention or an international patent application for the same invention.

The agreement was signed in the presence of the Minister of Economy, Tourism and Sport, Matjaž Hano, by the President of the European Patent Office, Antonio Campinos, and the Director of the Intellectual Property Office, Mag. Karin Žvokelj. This type of agreement has already been concluded by 16 of the 39 member countries of the European Patent Organisation.

On this occasion, Minister Matjaž Han expressed his satisfaction with the excellent cooperation with the European Patent Organisation and the European Patent Office. He said that Slovenian companies are export-oriented and closely integrated into the European economy. "Slovenian companies will only be able to compete if they invest in research and development and are innovative.  Inventions, however, must be properly protected by intellectual property rights. The agreement will improve conditions for Slovenian companies, universities, non-profit research institutions and individuals. They will now be able to obtain important information from the European Patent Office more easily and with fewer costs in the process of protecting their innovative solutions and inventions. This will allow Slovenian companies to be more competitive on the market."

The Director of the Intellectual Property Office, Ms. Karin Žvokelj pointed out that patent policy is one of the key foundations of any modern innovation policy, and thus also of economic policy. The signing of the agreement makes it easier, faster and, for some, cheaper for Slovenian companies to obtain high-quality information from the European Patent Office on whether their invention meets all the conditions for a patent. Applicants will thus be able to amend their patent application, if necessary, at an early stage of the national patent grant procedure and file a patent application for the same invention with the EPO or other offices in due time. She added that the Intellectual Property Office will continue to be a reliable partner for Slovenian business and will seek solutions that will help and support all those who wish to protect their intellectual property.

The President of the European Patent Office, Antonio Campinos, said at the signing, "I am pleased with the remarkable progress that has been made since our last meeting with Minister Han last December. I would like to thank the Minister and Ms Žvokelj, whose commitment to the benefits of the Agreement for Slovenian applicants and their dedicated work in implementing the necessary legislative and administrative adjustments made the signing of this Agreement possible. This system of cooperation brings a number of positive results, in particular easier access to the unitary patent and significantly improved opportunities for users."

Prior to the signing of the agreement, President Campinos also visited Krka d.d. as an example of a successful Slovenian company in the pharmaceutical sector that owns a large number of patents.