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What and how to patent

A patent is a protective document by which the state grants its owner the exclusive right to use an invention for a certain period of time. By disclosing to the public his invention described in the patent application, the owner of the patent gives valuable technical information. This disclosure creates one of the largest and most up-to-date sources of technical information available in the world.

Patents are granted for inventions that are new, involve inventive activity and are capable of industrial application. Not only new products, devices and technologies can be patented, but also chemically produced substances, pharmaceuticals, industrially produced micro-organisms, as well as biotechnological processes and products obtained by means thereof.

Patents may not be granted for discoveries or scientific theories, computer programs, new plant varieties or animal breeds, methods for the prevention, diagnosis of disease and treatment of humans and animals, methods of cloning human individuals and the use of the human embryo for industrial or commercial purposes.

The application may be filed by the person who has the right to the solution, i.e. the inventor of the invention. If the invention has been made by several co-inventors, they shall have the right to a solution to the extent that they have contributed to the making of the invention. Where the inventor has created the invention in the performance of tasks under an employment, similar employment or membership relationship, the right to invent shall pass to the employer. The right of solution shall also belong to the successors in title of those persons.

A patent application must contain a request for a patent, a description of the invention, an annotation, drawings if necessary, and at least one asserted claim defining the subject matter for which protection is sought. A patent application may contain only one invention or a group of inventions which are so connected that they form a single inventive idea.

The patent application shall be filed in paper form, either in person at the office in Banská Bystrica or by mail, or in electronic form through electronic systems (elektronických systémov) designated for this purpose. Instructions on how to amend the patent application are given in the Instructions (Inštrukcii (PDF, 168,2 kB)) of the Industrial Property Office of the Slovak Republic (hereinafter referred to as "the Office"). The patent application form (Tlačivo) can be obtained from the Office's filing office in Banská Bystrica or can be printed from this website. A specimen may be used to prepare the patent application (vzor (PDF, 231,9 kB)). Further information on filing a patent application can be found on the subpage: File a patent application (Podajte si patentovú prihlášku).

The filing of a patent application confers a right of priority on the applicant. After a patent application has been filed and entered in the Register of Patent Applications, the Office shall carry out a preliminary examination, the purpose of which is to exclude from further prosecution those patent applications the subject matter of which is obviously unpatentable (e.g. methods of treatment) or in which the invention is not described and explained so clearly and completely that a person skilled in the art can carry it out. Where deficiencies in the patent application are found to be of a formal nature, the Office shall invite the applicant to remedy the deficiencies. If the documents supporting the patent application are satisfactory, the patent application shall be published in the Bulletin of the Office 18 months after the priority right has accrued. After its publication, anyone may submit observations on the patentability of the subject-matter of the patent application, which shall be taken into account by the Office when carrying out a full examination. 

The applicant may file with the application a request for a priority search within nine months of the filing of the application ('priority search'), which must contain the identifying data of the applicant or co-applicants, the name of the invention which is the subject of the application and a declaration of the applicant's intention to request the Office to carry out a priority search and to publish the application together with the search report. A priority search may be carried out only on an application the priority of which has accrued as of the filing date of such application (i.e. not earlier). Where the statutory conditions for a priority search are fulfilled, the Office shall, within 9 months of the filing of the application, carry out a search on the subject-matter of the application, deliver the search report to the applicant and publish it together with the application.

A full examination of the patent application shall be carried out by the Office at the request of the applicant or any other person. Such a request must be made not later than 36 months from the date of filing of the application and the appropriate administrative fee (správny poplatok) must be paid. Only after a full examination has been carried out, if the invention is found to meet all the legal requirements for patentability, is a patent granted for the invention. In other words, when the invention meets the subject matter criterion, the novelty criterion, the inventive step criterion and also the industrial applicability criterion, only then can patent protection be granted. If the patentability requirements are not met, the Office shall reject the patent application. If formal deficiencies in the application are found which prevent the grant of a patent, the Office shall invite the applicant to remedy them. If the applicant does not remedy those deficiencies within the prescribed period and does not refute the justification for the request to remedy them, the Office shall discontinue the proceedings on the patent application. The time limit set by the Office may be extended at the request of the applicant.

If the application fulfils all the conditions laid down and the relevant administrative fees have been paid, the Office shall grant the patent to the applicant. The patent shall be valid for twenty years from the filing of the patent application. Administrative fees (správne poplatky) shall be payable for the acts performed in the prosecution of the patent application and maintenance fees shall be payable for the maintenance of the validity of the patent. Maintenance fees - information for fee payers (Udržiavacie poplatky - informácie pre poplatníkov).

A patent may also be granted in an accelerated procedure within 24 months of the filing of the patent application, provided that all the conditions for accelerated procedure set out in FAST TRACK - Patents are met (FAST TRACK - patenty).

The owner of a patent has an exclusive right in relation to the invention protected by the patent, i.e. no one may exploit the invention without his consent. The proprietor may grant consent to others to exploit the patent. Consent to use the patent shall be granted by means of a licence agreement. A patent may also be sold or transferred to another person, whether natural or legal. Both the transfer and the licence agreement shall take effect against third parties on the date of registration in the patent register. Licence offers (Ponuky licencií).