SPTO: more than 100 years protecting Spanish patents
Spain was among the first countries to see the need of granting legal protection to patents, as shown by Royal Decrees 1810, 1820, 1824 and the establishment of the Royal Conservatory of Arts and Crafts – the predecessor of today’s Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (SPTO). Moreover, our country was among the first to pass a patents act. In 1884, together with nine other States, Spain founded the International Union for the Protection of Industrial Property.
The SPTO is in charge of ‘granting legal protection to industrial property in a variety of forms by granting patents and utility models (inventions), industrial designs (product appearance), trademarks and brands (distinctive signs) and titles of protection for topographies of semiconductor products.’ In 1989, the SPTO signed the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which enables the Office to receive international PCT applications, thus broadening its international relevance.
This year, Madrid is playing host to a new EPO Patent Information Conference (EPO being the European Patent Office), to be held from 8 to 10 November – a meeting point for the representatives of patent offices in Europe, professionals and information providers, who will be able to share experiences and opinions.
Protecting industrial property (IP)
According to the SPTO, patents, utility models, trademarks and industrial designs ‘are important intangible assets adding value to a business and making it stronger vis-à-vis competitors.’
Protecting IP has benefits not only for the company or organisation applying for protection but also for the country where it is established: ‘By protecting their intangible assets under the various forms of industrial property (mostly patents, trademarks and designs), companies become stronger. This, in turn, has a positive impact on the country’s economy in terms of economic value and competitiveness.’
The SPTO confirms the growing awareness among Spanish companies of the ‘need to protect valuable intangible assets not only in Spain but also in markets where they are planning to operate or where they supply raw materials. This can be seen in the rising numbers of European patent applications and grants by residents in Spain, as well as of EU trademark and international design applications.’
- In 2015, the SPTO processed 5210 invention registration, 2882 patent and 2328 utility model applications. (Utility models protect IP developments with a lesser degree of inventiveness than patents.)
- Internationally, it processed 1604 PCT patent applications originating in Spain and submitted 1527 EPO patent applications, which means Spain stands 11th in the EU and 17th at the global level (source: EPO Annual Report 2015).
- Regarding distinctive signs, the SPTO processed 50,715 applications for trademarks and 7475 for brands.
- Most national patent applications (77.7%) come from the private sector, the highest numbers corresponding to transportation (7.2%), civil engineering (7%) and medical technology (6.2%).
- Likewise, the private sector accounts for almost the totality of national trademarks (99.2%), the sectors with the highest activity being advertising, business management and administration (16.1%) and education, culture and sports (14.4%).
Support to business
The SPTO was established with a twofold mission: processing applications and granting IP titles, and offering technology information services for the various types of IP protection covered by the Spanish and foreign agencies. Besides, the SPTO represents our country in international organisations and events dealing with industrial and intellectual property.
The main goals of the SPTO are to encourage and protect creative activity, technological innovation and corporate identity in Spain through the granting of IP titles; to give information and guide research through document and database management, giving easy access to the state of the art in science and technology for any given sector worldwide; and to contribute to the circulation and exchange of goods and services through the dissemination of the information pertaining to registered distinctive signs.
In order to achieve these goals, the SPTO supports businesses and entrepreneurs in their application for IP protection. It also works to raise awareness of the importance of protecting intangible assets in training and information workshops and other activities, as well as through its Business Support Service. Finally, the SPTO is part of CEVIPYME, an online IP support centre for SMEs.
The SPTO’s strategy for the promotion of IP protection involves the reduction of administrative burdens in the acquisition of patent rights and the shortening of patent granting times and other forms of IP protection by the simplification of administrative procedures.