Areas of Activity
The patent system was created in view of the need to protect and stimulate creations and the increasing development of technology, and patents have been in existence since the 18th century.
The following inventions are patentable:
a) new inventions (which do not form part of the state of the art), i.e. inventions that have never been realised, executed or used;
b) inventions involving an inventive step, i.e. inventions which, to a person skilled in the art, do not result obviously from the state of the art but rather constitute a sufficient development in relation thereto;
c) inventions that are capable of industrial application, i.e. inventions that can be used in practice.
The following are not patentable:
a) discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods;
b) materials or substances already existing in nature, as well as nuclear materials;
c) aesthetic creations;
d) schemes, rules and methods for performing mental activities being games or in the field of economic activities, as well as computer programs, as such, with no technical contribution;
e) presentations of information;
f) surgical and therapeutic methods for treatment of the human or animal body and diagnostic methods applicable thereto.
Patent protection cannot be granted to inventions the commercial working of which would be contrary to public order, public health or morality, namely:
a) processes for cloning human beings;
b) processes for modifying the germ line genetic identity of human beings;
c) the use of human embryos for industrial or commercial purposes;
d) processes for modifying the genetic identity of animals which are likely to cause them suffering without any substantial medical benefit to humans or animals, and also animals resulting from such processes;
e) patent protection also excludes the human body, at the various stages of its formation and development, as well as the simple discovery of one of its elements;
f) plant varieties and animals breeds, as well as essentially biological processes for obtaining plants or animals.
The general rule is that the right to the patent belongs to the inventor or his successors.
The term of protection of a patent is 20 years counted from the respective application.
A patent application can be filed as follows:
a) as a Portuguese national application, at the Portuguese Industrial Property Office;
b) as a European patent application, which can be filed either at the Portuguese Industrial Property Office or the European Patent Office;
c) under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (international application), in which case the application must be filed at the Portuguese Industrial Property Office, the European Patent Office or the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).