A patent is a title that grants its holder the right to prevent other people from using the invention claimed in the patent without the agreement of the owner. In return for disclosing the invention, international legislation grants the inventor a monopoly on its exploitation for a maximum period of 20 years. This protection is also subject to geographic limits as it can be national, European or international.
To register a patent, the invention must meet the following criteria of patentability:
A patent cannot be taken out on:
Before starting the procedure to file a patent application through an intellectual property attorney, you can make a preliminary search of the existing patents in your field of innovation by visiting, for instance, the Espacenet website.
The applicant can file a national patent application at the Intellectual Property Office of the Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade. An inventor who has filed a patent application in Luxembourg can extend the protection to other Member States of the European Union by exercising the priority right which he or she holds for 12 months from the date of filing the national patent.
The applicant may also submit a European patent application to the European Patent Office, covering up to 36 countries of the European continent. When granted, the European patent will have the same legal force in the designated countries that it covers as a national patent.
Lastly, the applicant can file an international patent application to the World Intellectual Property Organisation under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The PCT is a worldwide agreement whose aim is to simplify the procedure for filing patent applications. Over 130 countries, including most industrialised countries, are signatories. By means of a single international application, the applicant can request a patent in all signatory countries.