A range of laws safeguards the protection of intellectual property in Austria:
Intellectual property rights
Industrial property rights
It is possible to register a patent for a technical invention with the Austrian Patent Office. This gives the patent holder the exclusive right to manufacture, distribute and sell an item for a maximum of 20 years.
If an invention does not fulfil the prerequisites required for the award of a patent, it can be registered as an industrial design instead. This protects inventions against imitations. Industrial designs must not be confused with designs. The maximum duration of industrial design protection is ten years.
A design is defined as the template for the appearance of a product. This can be protected in order to protect a product against imitations and copies. Design protection gives the creator of the template the exclusive right to use it. Design protection lasts for five years and may respectively be renewed for a further period of five years. The maximum duration of design protection is 25 years.
A trademark (e.g. letters, words, numbers or images) identifies a product or service supplied by a company. Trademarks can consist of words, images or words and images. However, 3D trademarks and audio trademarks can also be registered. The maximum duration of trademark protection is ten years.
Authorities for the protection of intellectual property
The central authority for patent and copyright protection in Austria is the Austrian Patent Office. It issues and manages all patents, brands and designs; it holds documentation on over 40 million patents from 38 countries; and it provides access to technical information, legal databases, international patent directories as well as online research on patents, certification and patent approvals. The Austrian Patent Office is also a source of advice and information for patenting issues and also organises regular seminars and information events for interested companies.
Protection of intellectual property abroad
At the international level, protection of intellectual property is ensured by entering into international agreements. Austria has signed a series of treaties under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) as well as the Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights or TRIPS Agreement ("Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights") . Austria is also a member of the European Patent Office, the EU authority for registering trademarks and designs, UNESCO and the International Union for the Protection of Varieties of Plants.
Property rights encourage investment in innovation and research.
Before applying for patent or trademark protection, it is necessary for the Austrian Patent Office to carry out a search to determine whether the invention or trademark has already been registered.
In addition to administering and approving patents, the Patent Office can also test inventions in order to determine whether they are patentable with regard to the current state of technology.
Besides the process for granting patents, the Austrian Patent Office can also assess creative services of a technical nature in order to determine whether they are patentable. It issues certificates of patentability.
The Business Service Portal (USP) provides people living and working in Austria with an informative overview of subject matter related to patents, designs and trademarks.
The Austrian Patent Office database provides public access to information held by the Austrian Patent Office (trademarks, designs, industrial designs, patents and protection certificates). Basic queries are free of charge, while more extensive queries may be chargeable.
Central European Trade Mark Observation Service (Cetmos) is a cooperative project between the Austrian and Hungarian patent offices and provides an online search service for registered trademarks in nine countries throughout Central and Eastern Europe.
Serv.ip is an information service provided by the Austrian Patent Office. It offers additional services related to trademarks, designs and patenting.
The aim of the patent administration by the tecma and uni:invent programmes is to tap into the full patenting and licensing potential of Austrian universities and non-university institutions and to make efficient commercial use of this.