Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)
In Austria inventions, company labels and industrial designs can be protected by Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) like patents, utility models, trademarks and registered designs. The Austrian Patent Office (www.patentamt.at; in German only) is the national Centre of Excellence which provides the protection for inventions needed for safeguarding the interests of scientists.
Copyrights – the protection of creative and technical expression – need no special registration, they are generated by the creation of the opus itself. The copyright belongs solely to the creator.
Protection of inventions/company labels/designs in Austria
If you make an invention and want it protected in Austria there are two possibilities – a patent or a utility model. They both give the right for a limited period to exclude others from producing, using or selling the invention without permission. The right can be sold or transferred by licence.
Patents and utility models are basically territorial rights, therefore limited to the state for which the protection is granted and limited to a maximum period of 20 years. An invention is patentable if it is novel, contains an inventive step and if it is capable of industrial application. A utility model (commercial right for technical inventions) involves no testing for novelty, the inventive process or commercial applicability. The protection through utility models is limited to a maximum period of 10 years and it is normally granted more quickly than a patent but it confers weaker protection and is only applicable in certain countries.
Topographies – three-dimensional structures of micro-electronic semiconductor products – can also be protected and the right will be entered in the semiconductor register.
A company label can be protected by a trade mark – an independent property right which allows distinguishing of goods and services of different companies from one another. Trade marks can be protected for 10 years – this period may be extended indefinitely by paying the fee every ten years.
CETMOS, the Central European Trade Mark Observation Office (www.cetmos.eu), offers a serachable database of trademarks in force or pending in 9 participating Central and Eastern European countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia) based on the register of Community Trade Marks valid in the territory of the European Union.
By registration of an industrial design the appearance of a commercial product is protected (e.g. the shape of a mineral water bottle) – this is possible for 5 years which can be extended for four times up to a maximum period of 25 years.
Community Trade Marks and designs can be registered at OHIM, the Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market (oami.europa.eu), the official trademarks and designs registration office of the European Union. The Community Trade Mark (CTM) and registered Community design (RCD) are prerequisites for commercialisation in the European single market.
The Serv.IP of the Austrian Patent Office is a high-performance service centre which employs specialists when it comes to commercial legal protection.
For information regarding universities and inventions please see the website of the Knowledge Transfer Centers (Wissenstransferzentren) of the Austrian universities.
IPR Issues at application stage
If the organisations wish to protect information or data already at the application stage when submitting a proposal for a research project it is to recommend that a contract or an agreement is signed beforehand. This could be a Letter of Intent, a Confidentiality Agreement or a Memorandum of Understanding between the project partners. Model Agreements might be available at your organisation or the university. Links to such models can also be found at the IPR helpdesk.
Standard sample contracts on technology transfer have been made available free of charge online to enable Austrian universities and their contractual partners to avail themselves of comprehensive contract expertise complete with commentaries. The contracts can be found at www.ipag.at.
National Contact Point for IPR Issues
To coordinate national knowledge transfer activities and to foster the contact with respective facilities in other EU member states, a national contact point for IPR issues has been established in Austria. For details please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
IPR Services at the Austrian Promotional Bank, AWS
Operational tasks related to IPR issues, like events, trainings, model contracts, are carried out by the Austrian Promotional Bank, AWS. For inquiries please contact: email@example.com
For IP issues in the EU Framework Programme for Research please contact the IPR Helpdesk: www.iprhelpdesk.eu, T: 00352 - 25 22 33 - 333
IPAG - Intellectual Property Agreement Guide: www.ipag.at/home (in German only)