Areas of Activity
I – INTRODUCTION
It can be said that the protection of industrial property rights began with the fundamental laws of the United Kingdom (Statute of Monopolies, 1623), the United States (Patent Act, 1790) and France (law of 1791, during the revolutionary period).
In Portugal, the first law specifically concerning industrial property was the Decree of 16 January 1837 (only for inventions), followed some years later by the Charter of 4 June 1883 (trademarks).
However, industrial property only started being governed as a whole by the Charter of 21 May 1896, which was truly the first Portuguese industrial property code.
This Charter remained in effect until 1940, when the Industrial Property Code of 1940 came into force (Decree No 30.679 of 24 August 1940), which was replaced in 1995 by Decree-Law No 16/95 of 24 January 1995 (Code of 1995).
The large number of inaccuracies contained in the Code of 1995 led to its substitution by the current Code, i.e. Decree-Law No 36/2003 of 5 March 2003 (Code of 2003).
At worldwide level, industrial property started to be managed by BIRPI – Bureaux Internationaux Réunis pour la Protection de la Propriété Industrielle, with headquarters in Geneva.
On 20 March 1883, the International Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property was signed, which is commonly known as the Paris Convention, given that the respective diplomatic conference was held in this city.
This is the fundamental convention in the field of industrial property.
Within the scope of this convention, several agreements were subsequently executed:
• The Madrid Agreements of 14 April 1894 concerning the International Registration of Marks and for the Repression of False or Deceptive Indications of Source on Goods.
• The Nice Agreement of 1957 concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services.
• The Lisbon Agreement of 1958 for the Protection of Appellations of Origin.
• The Stockholm Convention establishing WIPO – 1967
• The PCT – Patent Cooperation Treaty – Washington, 1970
In 1967 BIRPI was replaced by WIPO – World Intellectual Property Organization, which has since then managed all these conventions and treaties.
WIPO is thus responsible for the updating of the Paris Convention, for the registration of international trademarks, for the Hague Agreement (deposit of industrial designs), for the PCT – Patent Cooperation Treaty (patent applications), etc.
Within the European Union, the institutions that have been created are the European Patent Office (known as the EPO), in Munich, which is responsible for the European Patent, and the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), in Alicante, which handles the Community Trademark and the Community Design.
On a private level, various associations have been set up within the field of industrial property, the most important of them being AIPPI – International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property, created in 1897 with headquarters in Zurich, which has more than 10,000 members all over the world.
Later on, FICPI – Fédération Internationale des Conseils en Propriété Industrielle was created, whose members are exclusively industrial property attorneys.
More recently, the European Patent Institute was created, with headquarters in Munich, which consists of the patent attorneys accredited to the EPO (European Patent).
All these associations have their corresponding Portuguese national groups.
a) There is the Portuguese Group of AIPPI, created in 1975;
b) ACPI – “Associação Portuguesa dos Consultores em Propriedade Industrial” (Portuguese Association of Industrial Property Consultants), affiliated to FICPI, created shortly afterwards (1976);
c) AMEP – “Associação dos Mandatários Europeus de Patentes” (Association of European Patent Attorneys);
d) The Portuguese National Delegation of the ICC – International Chamber of Commerce, operating within the “Associação Comercial de Lisboa” (Commercial Association of Lisbon).
II - THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL PROPERTY OFFICE
The establishment of the National Industrial Property Office is relatively recent (1987) and until then all matters relating to industrial property were handled by the Industrial Property Bureau, belonging to the Department of Trade (together with two other Bureaus, i.e. the Trade Bureau and the Foreign Trade Bureau).
The National Industrial Property Office currently has around 120 employees and is managed by a Board of Directors (with three members), also having an Advisory Board (with four members).
III – OFFICIAL INDUSTRIAL PROPERTY AGENTS
Official Industrial Property Agents, initially called “Trademark and Patent Agents”, were created by the Dictatorial Decree of 15 December 1894 and the respective regulation (Decree of 21 March 1895) stipulated that “Lisbon may have up to six trademark and patent agents”.
The number of official agents was increased to 10 by the Code of 1940 (Article 264), all of them with office in Lisbon, and later (Decree-Law No 96/72) to 15, 12 of them with office in Lisbon and three in Oporto.
The system of appointment of official agents was altered in 1995 (Decree-Law No 15/95 of 24 January 1995), now being made by public competitive examination and with no limitation on the number of agents.
Only degree holders in engineering, law or economics may apply for the position of official agent.
In accordance with the provisions of Article 13 of the abovementioned Decree-Law:
“Official agents shall be exempt from filing a power of attorney in order to act on behalf and in the interest of their clients and parties that they represent, except in the case of acts involving the withdrawal of an application for a patent, deposit or registration or the renunciation of industrial property rights.”
Currently, in Portugal, there are:
a) 59 Official Industrial Property Agents;
b) 48 European Patent Attorneys; and
c) 130 European Trademark and Design attorneys.