Scope and ownership of patents

Types of protectable inventions

Can a patent be obtained to cover any type of invention, including software, business methods and medical procedures?

For an invention to be patentable in Greece, it must be new, involve an inventive step and be susceptible to industrial application. A patentable invention may concern a product, process or industrial application.

For an invention to be considered as involving an inventive step, it must not be obvious to a person skilled in the art. For it to be considered susceptible to industrial application, it must be possible to produce or use the subject matter in any industrial field.

The following are exempt from patent protection:

  • discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods;
  • aesthetic creations;
  • schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and computer software;
  • presentation of information;
  • methods for treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy;
  • diagnostic methods practised on the human or animal body;
  • inventions, the publication or exploitation of which would contravene public order or morality; and
  • plant or animal varieties or biological processes for the production of plants or animals — this provision does not apply to microbiological processes or the products thereof.


Software is expressly excluded from patentability; however, computer-related inventions are patentable in Greece to the extent that the European Patent Office considers them patentable. In this respect, an invention that uses a computer program must be a functional system accompanying specific hardware.

Patent ownership

Who owns the patent on an invention made by a company employee, an independent contractor, multiple inventors or a joint venture? How is patent ownership officially recorded and transferred?

According to the Patent Law, an invention made by a company employee shall belong entirely to the employer, if it is the outcome of a contractual relationship between the employee and the employer for the development of inventive activity (service invention).

If the invention is made by an employee with the use of materials, means or information of the company in which he or she is employed, it will 40 per cent belong to the employer and 60 per cent belong to the employee (dependent invention). In such a case, the employer has the right to exploit the invention by priority against compensation to the inventor, which must be proportional to the economic value of the invention and the profit it brings.

The inventor of the dependent invention has the obligation to notify the employer in writing on the accomplishment of the invention and to provide the necessary information for the filing of a joint patent application. If the employer does not reply to the employee in writing within four months of the notification that he or she is interested in jointly filing the patent application, the invention will belong entirely to the employee, who will have the right to file the application in his or her own name.

If the invention is neither a service invention nor a dependent one, it will belong entirely to the employee.

The ownership of an invention made by an independent contractor will depend on the relevant provisions of the agreement between him or her and the employer. If an invention has been achieved by multiple inventors, the rights thereto will be divided equally among them, unless otherwise provided for by an existing written agreement. In the case of a joint venture, the rights to an invention must be governed by a written agreement between the parties.

Patent ownership is officially recorded at the Greek Patent Office. Transfer of the patent must also be recorded at the Greek Patent Office so that it has effect against third parties.

Patent office proceedings

Patenting timetable and costs

How long does it typically take, and how much does it typically cost, to obtain a patent?

As there is no substantial examination in Greek law, provided that a patent application meets all the formal requirements, a patent may be granted within 14 to 16 months of filing. The costs involved up to grant, in accordance with the currently applicable official fees, are either €500 or €667, depending on whether the applicant will request the issuance of a simple or a justified search report. Higher fees must be expected if the application comprises more than 10 claims.

Expedited patent prosecution

Are there any procedures to expedite patent prosecution?

The Greek law on patent protection allows the applicant to expedite the patent examination procedure. Applicants can waive their right to make use of the four-month period after filing, which otherwise allows for the late submission of the Greek translation and other supporting documents, provided that they have fulfilled all necessary requirements upon filing.

Patent application contents

What must be disclosed or described about the invention in a patent application? Are there any particular guidelines that should be followed or pitfalls to avoid in deciding what to include in the application?

The specification of the invention must be complete and clear enough so that an expert skilled in the art may work the invention as described.

The specification must:

  • determine the technical field to which the invention relates;
  • indicate the state of the prior art, which is useful for understanding the invention;
  • define the invention, as defined in the claims, using appropriate technical terms so that the technical problem the invention aims to solve and the provided solution can be understood;
  • present the advantages of the invention in relation to the state of the prior art;
  • contain a brief description of the figures in the drawings (if any);
  • provide a detailed description of at least one way of carrying out the claimed invention, providing examples where possible; and
  • provide an explicit clarification of the way in which the invention can be applied in industry.


The claims must define the subject matter for which protection is sought and must be fully supported by the specification.

Prior art disclosure obligations

Must an inventor disclose prior art to the patent office examiner?

Ministerial Decision No. 15928/EFA/1253 invites the applicant to indicate the state of the prior art that he or she considers useful for understanding the invention. The documents reflecting the state of the prior art may be cited in the specification; however, such disclosure is not obligatory.

Pursuit of additional claims

May a patent applicant file one or more later applications to pursue additional claims to an invention disclosed in its earlier-filed application? If so, what are the applicable requirements or limitations?

If an invention constitutes a modification of another invention already covered by a patent (main patent), the owner of the latter may apply for the grant of a patent of addition for the later invention, provided that the subject matter of the patent of addition is related to at least one claim of the main patent.

Patent office appeals

Is it possible to appeal an adverse decision by the patent office in a court of law?

Decisions of the Greek Patent Office are enforceable administrative acts and as such they can only be challenged before the Council of State (the Supreme Administrative Court of Greece).

Oppositions or protests to patents

Does the patent office provide any mechanism for opposing the grant of a patent?

Greek law does not provide for opposition procedures before the Greek Patent Office. The validity of a patent may be challenged only before the competent civil courts by means of a nullity action.

Priority of invention

Does the patent office provide any mechanism for resolving priority disputes between different applicants for the same invention? What factors determine who has priority?

There are no mechanisms for resolving priority disputes before the Greek Patent Office. Such disputes may be resolved before the competent civil court, upon a lawsuit of any third party, claiming rights on the invention. If two or more persons have made an invention independently of each other, the priority right belongs to the first to file.

Modification and re-examination of patents

Does the patent office provide procedures for modifying, re-examining or revoking a patent? May a court amend the patent claims during a lawsuit?

An ex parte post grant modification of national patents is not provided for by Greek law. Modification is only allowable in the case of European patents upon the issuance of a ‘decision to limit’ in accordance with the relevant rules of the European Patent Convention. In such a case the modified translation of the patent must be submitted to the Greek Patent Office within three months of the date of publication of the aforementioned decision in the European Patent Bulletin.

A national patent can be modified by a decision of the competent civil court within the framework of a partial nullity action brought before the same by a third party, in which case the patent can be restricted to the extent requested. Re-examination of granted patents is not provided for by the law.

Patent duration

How is the duration of patent protection determined?

National and secret patents enjoy 20-year protection and must be renewed annually. Patents of addition expire simultaneously with the main patent.

During its lifetime, a patent of addition may be made independent, upon a relevant request to the Greek Patent Office. In such a case, the duration is extended to 20 years from the day following the date of application for the grant of the patent of addition, provided that all annual fees are duly paid.

Patents covering medicinal and plant protection products may be extended for a period of up to five years from expiry thereof by way of a supplementary protection certificate (SPC), provided that the relevant legal requirements are satisfied. The option of obtaining a six-month extension of an SPC for paediatrics is also available where the relevant legal conditions are met.

Law stated date

Correct on

Give the date on which the information above is accurate.

10 February 2021.