Patents of Invention

– Patent Law No. XXXIII of 1995, in force since January 1, 1996.
– Decree No. 20/2002 (XII. 12.) (IM) on Rules of Formal Requirements of Patent Applications, in force since January 1, 2003.
– Decree No. 19/2005 (IV. 12.) (GKM) on Fees of the Proceedings before the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (HIPO), in force since June 11, 2009.
– Law No. L of 2002, on Enactment of the Convention on the Grant of European Patents.
– Regulation (EC) No. 469/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of May 6, 2009 concerning the supplementary protection certificate for medicinal products.

Membership in International Conventions

– Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, Stockholm Act.
– Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), since April 26, 1970.
– The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents (Apostille), since January 18, 1973.
– Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), in force since June 27, 1980.
– Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Microorganisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedure, since August 19, 1980.
– WTO’s TRIPS Agreement, since January 1, 1995.
– European Patent Convention, in force since January 1, 2003.
– Patent Law Treaty, since March 12, 2008.
– London Agreement on the application of Article 65 EPC, proclaimed by Act No. XXIII of 2009, in force since January 1, 2011.

Filing

Applicant: may be the inventor(s) or an assignee, provided he is a natural or legal person. 

Legal representation: applicants not having residence in the European Economic Area (EEA) must be represented by a Hungarian authorized patent attorney or attorney-at-law or by a patent attorney or attorney-at-law authorized to practice in an EEA member State and registered for representation in Hungary.  

Protection for foreigners: the same as for Hungarian nationals. 

Naming of the inventor(s): compulsory, but any inventor may request not to be mentioned in any published document. 

Patentability conditions: novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability.

Exceptions to protection: e.g. discoveries, scientific theories, computer programs.

Novelty: absolute novelty is required. Grace period: six months before the priority date if the publication has occurred by an injury against the applicant or his predecessor.

Priority: Convention or internal as well as single or multiple priority may be claimed. The claim for priority and the priority document must be filed within sixteen months from the earliest claimed priority.

Patents of addition: do not exist.

Confirmation patents: do not exist.

Secret patents: the President of the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (HIPO) may order to treat an application secretly on the basis of the proposal of a Minister competent under the provisions of a specific legislation. 

Product protection: direct product protection can be obtained. 

Plant species: are patentable (see below Section VII “New Plant Varieties“).

Animal breeds: are not patentable (see below Section VII-7 “Protection of animal breeds“).

Inventions in the microbiological field: if a microorganism used for carrying out the invention is not available to the public and cannot be disclosed in the patent application, it must be deposited under the Budapest Treaty not later than the filing date in Hungary. The description shall include a reference to the deposit, designation of the institute, date of deposit and serial number of the deposited culture. A deposition certificate should be filed within four months after the filing date. 

Exceptions of patentability: equivalent to the exceptions of the European Patent Convention.

Filing requirements for an application (to be sent to resident agent):
1. Power of attorney, signed by the applicant, no legalization required (can be filed later);
2. Assignment (if the applicant is other than the inventor(s)), no legalization required (can be filed later);
Assignment of priority right (if the applicant is not the applicant of the priority application, and not the inventor), no legalization required (can be filed later);
3. Application documents can be filed in any language (exceptions: the claim for a patent and the identification of the applicant should be given in Hungarian) comprising specification and abstract; Hungarian translation thereof can be filed within four months, but this term is twelve months if the specification and abstract were filed in English;
4. Formal drawings, if any;
5. Priority document(s), if any, generally without translation, but the Intellectual Property Office has the right to request a translation. The priority document should be filed within four months from the filing date; no extension of term is possible).

For a PCT application, Hungary being a designated country (Chapter I) or an elected country (Chapter II):
1. Power of attorney (see above);
2. Assignment in case the applicant in Hungary is different from the applicant in the PCT application (see above).

Time limit for entering the national phase: 31 months from the earliest priority date for both Chapters I and II. A single three-month extension can be requested upon payment of an extension fee.

Minimum requirements on filing date: in the case of Convention applications: (a) reference to a claim to the patent; (b) data that can be used to identify the applicant and make contact with the applicant possible; (c) description or a similar document, regardless of whether or not it complies with the prescribed requirements, or a reference to an earlier application submitted in lieu of a description; in the case of PCT applications: Hungarian translation of the specification and abstract (and in case the claims have been amended, the translation of the original claims and of the amended claims), name and address of the inventor(s) and the payment of the national fees. 

Terms for filing the missing documents: in the case of Convention applications: for priority document: sixteen months from the earliest claimed priority; for the Hungarian translation of the specification, four months from the filing date; the term for filing all other documents can be extended; in the case of PCT applications: a single extension of three months for meeting the above-mentioned requirements can be obtained against payment of a fee; the term for filing all other documents can be extended.

Examination

Examination on filing: the HIPO examines whether (a) the application satisfies the requirements for accordance of a filing date; (b) the filing fee and search fee have been paid in due time; (c) the Hungarian translation of the application documents has been filed in due time. If a date of filing cannot be accorded, the applicant is invited to remedy the deficiencies within two months (the date of the remedy will be accepted as filing date), otherwise the application shall be deemed to have been withdrawn. If a date of filing is accorded, an examination as to formal requirements follows. If formal requirements are satisfactory, the HIPO carries out the novelty search and draws up a search report, which is transmitted to the applicant together with copies of any cited references.

Publication: eighteen months after the earliest priority date. Applicant may request an earlier publication. Simultaneously with the publication of the application, information is published in the Official Journal on the search carried out, or if the search report is available at a later date, separately. A request for substantive examination must be filed before the expiry of six months from the date of the official publication of the novelty search report. The examination fee is payable within two months from filing the request. During the substantive examination, the Examiner determines whether (1) the invention is novel and involves an inventive activity in the light of the prior art, and is applicable in the industry; (2) the invention is not excluded from patent protection; (3) the application complies with all other requirements.

Objections: when an objection is raised, a term (normally four months but minimum two months) is set to reply to the official letter, which can be extended - as a basic rule - once by two to four months. However, further or longer (maximum six months) extension is available in exceptional cases. No amendment is allowed which would result in broadening the original disclosure as filed (no new matter).

Voluntary amendment: the applicant can amend the description, claims and drawings until the decision on the grant becomes final upon payment of a fee.

Division: if several inventions are claimed in one application, the applicant may divide it until the granting decision becomes final, retaining the filing date and any earlier priority. 

Granting: if all requirements are met, the HIPO grants a patent. Before granting, the application documents are transmitted to the applicant for approval and payment of the granting and printing fee.

Rejection: if rejected by the HIPO, a request for reconsideration can be filed with the Metropolitan Court within thirty days after receipt of the rejecting decision. The decision of the Metropolitan Court can be appealed before the Metropolitan Appeal Court within fifteen days, and its decision is final. In exceptional cases, where injury of law occurred, a request for supervision can be filed to the Supreme Court of Hungary. 

Opposition: not available.

Observations: any person has the right to file comments on a published application objecting the patentability. However, this person will not be party of the procedure.

Registration, Protection

Publication: eighteen months after the earliest priority date.

Duration of protection: twenty years beginning with the filing date.

Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs): maximum five-year extension available as of May 1, 2004 for pharmaceuticals under special conditions (see SPC Section 9.). The duration of an SPC can be extended by six months if the conditions laid down in Article 36 of Regulation (EC) No. 1901/2006 on medicinal products for paediatric use are fulfilled.

Annuities: those are accumulated and due on the day of publication, which would have otherwise been due at the anniversary of the filing date prior to the publication.

Due date of the subsequent annuities: the date of filing.

Annuity grace period: six months (the first three months without surcharge).

Restoration: possible after the patent lapsed for non-payment of an annuity within three months from the expiry of the grace period.

Advanced payment of annuities: within the two-month period preceding the starting date of the grace period.

Amendment of a granted patent: only clerical and obvious errors can be corrected. 

Assignment: registration may be requested by filing a declaration duly signed by the parties.

Licenses: registration may be requested.

Working: there is no direct working requirement. After the expiry of four years from the date of filing of the application or three years from the grant of the patent, whichever period expires last, the court may grant a compulsory license upon request of a domestic petitioner, if the patentee has not exploited his invention in Hungary to satisfy the domestic demand, or has refused to grant license, or has not taken serious preparation for working, unless he justifies his non-working of the patent.

Compulsory licenses: can be requested also on the basis of dependence of a patent from an older patent under special conditions defined also in TRIPS. 

Right of prior user: persons having made the necessary serious preparations for using or having used an invention in Hungary in good faith, before the corresponding patent application has been filed or prior to the convention date (if claimed) may continue to make use of the invention to the same extent which they had prior to granting.

Modification of Protection after Registration

Opposition to granted patents: is not possible.

Expropriation: is not possible.

Revocation: any person can apply for declaring a patent invalid at the HIPO on the basis of the following grounds: (a) does not fulfill the requirements of patentability; (b) the description fails to demonstrate the invention in a sufficient way; (c) the subject matter of the patent is broader than disclosed in the original application; (d) it was granted to a person other than the person legally entitled. Against the decision of the HIPO a request for reconsideration can be filed with the Metropolitan Court and a decision of the latter can be appealed before the Metropolitan Appeal Court (in exceptional cases, where injury of law occurred, a request for supervision can be filed with the Supreme Court). If the grounds for revocation affect the patent only partially, the scope of the patent will be limited, correspondingly.

Negative statement (or non-infringement proceeding) can be requested by anyone before a patent infringement is initiated on the same ground. Proceeding is started before the HIPO, and appeals can be filed as in case of any substantive decisions of the HIPO (see “Revocation” above). The establishment of a negative statement excludes the establishment of a patent infringement on the same basis. 

Infringement and penalties: the owner of a patent may initiate a patent infringement proceedings with the Metropolitan Court (appeal possibilities as above) and may request statement of the infringement, fine, even confiscation and destruction of infringing goods. The patentee may also claim damages under the rules of civil liability and return of enrichment. Patent infringement gives cause to penal consequences.

European Patent Applications

Filing Office: European patent applications can be filed at the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (HIPO) by a Hungarian citizen or a person whose private or corporate domicile is in Hungary.

Protection: upon filing a Hungarian translation of the published claims and upon publication thereof by the HIPO, provisional protection begins according to Art. 67 EPC. 

Validation: only the Hungarian translation of the set of claims should be filed with the HIPO. The description should be filed in Hungarian or in English. If no Hungarian translation is filed, then no damages can be claimed under the rules of civil liability, if it cannot be proven that the infringer could understand the English description. Beyond the three-month term of EPC, a further single extension of three months may be claimed upon payment of fee. The Hungarian Patent Act also provides for the opportunity to file the Hungarian translation of the full specification, irrespective of the language of proceedings of the European patent, by the date of expiry of the three-month period after publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, or any time thereafter. The appointment of a national professional representative is necessary (an authorized patent attorney or attorney-at-law, residing in the European Union, may also be a professional representative).

PCT Applications

The Hungarian Intellectual Property Office can be a receiving Office for Hungarian nationals and residents and a designated or elected Office for foreign applicants, except when the PCT application designates the European Patent including Hungary.

As to requirements for entering the national phase, see above in Section 3 “Filing requirements“.

Supplementary Protection Certificates

A Supplementary Protection Certificate (SPC) is available for medicinal products in accordance with Council Regulation (EEC) No. 469/2009, and for plant protection products in accordance with Regulation (EC) No. 1610/96 of the European Parliament and of the Council of  July 1996.