Croatia: Parliament Urged to Ratify Patent Law Treaty
By Anamarija Stančić Petrovic, SD PETOSEVIC Croatia-Zagreb, Published in World Intellectual Property Report, January 2005
On September 24, the Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sport sent to the Croatian Parliament a Law on ratification of the Patent Law Treaty (PLT).The PLT was adopted at a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Diplomatic Conference in Geneva on June 1, 2000, and was signed by 53 WIPO member states and one intergovernmental organization, including the Republic of Croatia. This Treaty, which is not yet in force, should set minimum requirements to be respected regarding formal aspects of filing a patent application and all related actions there to.
Provisions of this Treaty support efforts towards harmonization of the formal part of the patent grant procedure at the level of national WIPO member states’ legislation. Harmonization of the formal legal segment should contribute to the globalization of formal patent rights, which is beneficial to ali interested parties -patent applicants and holders — as well as national IP offices.
Implementation of the subject Treaty will lead to certain modifications of the current Law on Patents (published in the Official Gazette 173/2003), primarily in the segment related to fulfilling formal requirements for assignment of an application date, leading to enforcement of provisions which rule that, in order to determine application date, the same must include, among others, one or more patent claims. The Patent Law will also be amended in relation to mandatory representations before the Office, pursuant to the provision of the said Treaty, which prescribes actions in the procedure that a party may undertake independently.
Enactment of this Law is also in the clear interest of members of the World Trade Organization, as the patent application filing procedure will be made uniform and a simpler patent grant procedure will be established.
It was proposed to the Croatian parliament that the subject Patent Law should be adopted on an urgent basis, uniting first and second reading, due to the nature of the ratification procedure of international treaties that have already been signed, and the fact that, at this stage of the procedure, no amendments to the Treaty can be carried out.
New Patent Law
On October 15, 2003, a new Patent Law was adopted by the Croatian Parliament, which was published on October 21, 2003 (Official Gazette No. 173/2003) and came into force on January 1, 2004. The new Patent Law was adopted mainly in order to implement European Union legislation. Although the current legislation had, to a great extent, already been harmonized with the EU Acquis, the new Patent Law included some major changes, as follows:
1. As regards biotechnological inventions, the amended Patent Law is fully harmonized with the rules and regulations of the EU Directive 98/44/EC relating to the legal protection of biotechnological inventions. Thus, every biotechnological invention that should be patentable in accordance with the Directive will also be patentable in Croatia. However, the patent protection shall exclude inventions relating to animal breeds and plant varieties, and essential!y biological processes for the production of a plant or an animal, except for inventions relating to microbiological processes and products resulting from such processes.
2. By virtue of this Law, the term “microbiological process” is considered as any such process that includes or is applied on microbiological material or the product of which is microbiological material. It will not be possible to protect an invention relating to cloning or production of any part of the human body, including a sequence or a partial gene sequence. An invention that relates to an element isolated from the human body or is produced by a technical pro¬cess, including a sequence or partial gene sequence, shall be patentable, regardless of the fact that it is structurally equal to the natural element.
3. Industrial applicability of the sequence or of the partial gene sequence must be disclosed in the patent application as originally filed. Not patentable are inventions related to the use of human embryos in industry or commercial purposes; methods of animal gene modifications that cause pain and have no medical benefit for humans or animals; and animals which are products of such processes.
Diagnostic or surgical methods, or methods of a treatment practiced directly on the living human or animal body, shall particularly not be regarded as industrially applicable inventions, except for the products used in such methods, in particular substances or compositions.
The following were implemented:
a) Council Regulation EC No. 1768/92 on supplementary protection certificates for medicinal products for humans and/or animals; and
b) Council Regulation EC No. 1610/96 on supplementary protection certificates for plant protection products.
The new Law also implements the provisions for restitution of rights; provisions of cross-licensing in accordance with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the Directive on legal protec¬tion of biotechnological inventions; “effects and limits” of the exclusive rights regarding patents in the field of biotechnology; and grant of a patent for a second medical use of a known compound and/or composition.
Finally, the new Law has introduced a new Chapter (Chapter XII) with provisions relating to the legal effect and processing of European Patent Applications and European Patents extended to the Republic of Croatia. This new Chapter was introduced in accordance with the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Croatia and the European Patent Organization on co-operation in the field of patents (Co-operation and Extension Agreement), ratified on June 16, 2003, in Munich.
The Law on Co-operation and Extension was adopted by the Croatian Parliament on July 17, 2003, and was published in the Official Gazette No. 14/2003, Section on International Treaties. The new Regulation on the procedure of granting a patent came into force as of June 2004. In October 2004, a draft of the new Law on administrative fees and procedural charges in the field of industrial property was sent to the Croatian parliament with recommendation to pass the Law on an urgent basis.
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