On January 31, 2020, the Parliament of the Republic of Croatia passed the Patent Law which comes into effect on February 20, 2020.
During the process of harmonisation of the Croatian legislation with the European legislation, a part of the process Croatia went through as a requirement before joining the EU on July 01, 2013, previous versions of the Patent Law went through changes by way of various multiple amendments only – while the new Patent Law has been introduced only now, in 2020. In other words, among others, the new Law promotes new definitions of terms and amends provisions which have been proved to have various shortcomings in practice.
The major novelties introduced by the new Law are:
Utility Model Replaces Consensual Patent
The new Law replaces the previous consensual patent concept with the utility model concept and thus improves legal certainty. Utility model prosecution and patent prosecution procedures are regulated by separate provisions of the Law. Novelty, inventive steps and industrial applicability will not be examined. It will not be possible to register a utility model in the field of biotechnology, for a chemical/pharmaceutical substance, for an invention which is contrary to public order or morality or for an invention protecting a procedure. The registered utility model will be valid for ten years, counting from the application date. It will be possible to file the request for substantive examination within first seven years of the validity of utility model and it will not be possible to have the same withdrawn. The utility model applicant will be able to file the request for conversion of the utility model application to patent application and vice versa, before the utility model grant/refusal decision has been issued i.e. six months after publication of the report on results of the prior art search, at the latest. The holder of the utility model will not be able to request civil protection on the basis of the unexamined right.
Introduction of a Preliminary Prior Art Search, etc.
The new Law introduces a preliminary prior art search and a preliminary written opinion on the patentability of an invention at an early stage of the examination procedure i.e. before an application is published in the Official Gazette, thus making sure the utility model applicants manage their rights more efficiently. This will be conducted by the European Patent Office (EPO) which has the capacity (human and technological) to conduct searches and examinations in the most complex areas of emerging technologies.
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