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Patents

"An application for a patent can be submitted for a new, commercially applicable invention that, from an expert perspective, in no obvious way stems from the state of technology." (§ 1 Sec. 1 Patent Act)

A patent and/or patent registration is for new inventions. If it is a JKU employee invention, in compliance with § 106 Sec. 3 of the Universities Act, JKU employees must immediately bring the invention to the attention of the Rectorate. Register an Employee Invention to the Rectorate by contacting the responsible person in the Patent Out Group and submit the required form pertaining to Employee Inventions.

--> JKU employees can find information on registering an employee invention, an inventor's bonus, etc. in Intranet, Research Support.

General Information About Patents

Exclusive rights are granted in return for the invention's complete disclosure. The inventor / creator of the secured utilization should be possible without hindering the progress of science through secrecy.

Patents are effective regardless of their knowledge, also complete in-house developments and independent second developments are patent violations.

A patent is issued for a maximum of 20 years, whereby an annual fee (with incremental increases) can be paid to maintain the patent.

Please note the following:

  • A patent is not automatically a right for use: For example, each country must examine a patented drug in order to be admitted.
  • There is no obligation of use.
  • Patents are subject to national law, meaning they must be registered separately in each desired country (exception: EU). There is no such thing as a "global patent"!
  • A patent's exclusive rights only apply to commercial use; private use, production, etc. is always allowed.

The following 4 requirements need to be fulfilled in order to patent an invention

  1. New: In regards to current technology , the invention must be new, meaning internationally accessible to all (at least in theory), represent updated technology that is to be exceeded. Publications in professional journals, textbooks, lectures at public conferences / events, in classes, etc. are subject to being a novelty!
  2. Inventive Activity: Experts must determine the invention was not derived from prior technology. "Normal" technical development therefore remains open. The expert is considered an average person in the field possessing knowledge in just one specific area and who is familiar with everything known in the field worldwide (in practice, the threshold is set quite low) .
  3. Commercial Applications : The invention must be useable. It is not required that it also be profitable. The most important reason for exclusion : perpetual motion.
  4. Sufficient Disclosure: The patent must fully disclose the invention. This means that a specialist or expert can reproduce it only with her/his knowledge and the patent. This is the trade-off for the public for the monopoly ensured through the patent. (The Patent Office, however, is not always in the position to determine this exactly.)

What Cannot Be Patented in Austria

  • Discoveries: that have always existed can at most be discovered (meaning found), but not invented (such as a "new" animal species, law of nature,...).
  • ScientificTheories and Mathematical Methods: the purely abstract form is purely intellectual and independent from every application (i.e.: a2+b2=c2).
  • Aesthetic Creation: the form/appearance is in the foreground, not a technical property (this can be additional and in this case can be patented). Property laws are provided: registered design, copyright, etc.
  • Plans, Rules, Procedures for Notional Activities, Games: purely intellectual "applications" with no relation to the real world (such as Tic-Tac-Toe).
  • Business Methods: pure code of practice for human actions, but not for the construction of machines, appliances, etc. In the USA this is, however, patentable! (Example: a certain way to manage a fund).
  • Computer Programs "as such": program listings, algorithms, plans/ rules, mathematical methods. However in the EU there are discussions on software patents / computer implementing inventions.
  • Pure Relay of Information: the portrayal of information; the methods for this can, however, be patentable!
  • Forbidden or Immoral Inventions: more than simply a legal ban on the possession/use of, for example, mines against persons. However, can be permitted in certain countries!
  • "Biological": Types of plants or animals. These cannot be patented but there are special provisions similar to patents.
  • Therapeutical and Surgical Procedures: Diagnosis and treatment of a patient's illness cannot be protected by a patent. However the required tools can be patented. For example, a reflect test on the knee using a reflex hammer cannot be patented; the hammer itself, however, could be patented.

See the Austrian Patent Office website for more information.