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Austria

Intellectual property

Updated 09/2012

Legal requirements

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.

Administrative procedures

Registration

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.

Obtaining certification

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.

Resources

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.

Programmes

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.

Help & advice

Help & advice

The Austrian Law Society and the Austrian Patent Attorney Association both offer expert assistance, advice and representation for patenting and copyright issues.

The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber answers questions relating to patenting and copyright law, procures contacts and provides links to further information.

The Austrian Association of Innovators and Patent Holders (OPEV) represents the interests of innovators, researchers, developers and the owners of patents and industrial designs. This non-profit association provides advice and support in technical matters and issues concerning patent law.

SOLVIT helps businesses deal with problems that arise when national authorities wrongly apply EU market rules.

E-mail a business organisation near you

The EU runs a network (Enterprise Europe Network) of local business organisations in most European countries that may be able to help you.

Choose your country and town and enter your enquiry below.

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