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Applying for a patent

Patentability

What are the criteria for patentability in your jurisdiction?

The criteria for patentability in Hungarian law are in line with the European Patent Convention (EPC) 2000. According to Article 1 of the Patent Act (33/1995), patents “shall be granted for any inventions in any field of technology that are new, involve an inventive step and are susceptible of industrial application”.

According to the Patent Act, the three key criteria for patentability are as follows:

  • Novelty – an invention is considered new if it does not form part of the state of the art (Article 2 of the Patent Act).
  • Inventive step – an invention is considered to involve an inventive step if, in regard to the state of the art, it is not obvious to a person skilled in the art (Article 4 of the Patent Act).
  • Industrial application – an invention is considered susceptible to industrial application if it can be made or used in any sector of industry or agriculture (Article 5 of the Patent Act).
  • Hungarian national patents are prosecuted, granted and registered by the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office. However, patent protection in Hungary may also be obtained through the Hungarian national phase of an international patent application filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty or by validating a European patent in Hungary. As Hungary is an EU member state which has signed the Unified Patent Court Agreement, European patents with unitary effect (known as ‘unitary patents’) will also be available in Hungary once the agreement takes effect.

What are the limits on patentability?

Article 1(2) of the Patent Act excludes the following from patentability:

  • discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods;
  • aesthetic creations;
  • schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business;
  • computer programs; and
  • presentations of information.

This is a verbatim implementation of Article 52(2) of the EPC 2000.

The subject matter above is excluded from patentability only to the extent to which a patent application or patent relates to the subject matter (Article 1(3) of the Patent Act).

Article 6 of the Patent Act identifies the exceptions from patentability, and is in line with Article 53 of the EPC 2000. No patent protection will be granted for an invention whose exploitation is contrary to public policy or morality. Exploitation may not be regarded as contrary to public policy merely because it is prohibited by law or regulation. Therefore, the following are not patentable:

  • processes for cloning humans;
  • processes for modifying the germ line or genetic identity of humans;
  • the use of human embryos for industrial or commercial purposes;
  • processes for modifying the genetic identity of animals which are likely to cause them suffering without substantial medical benefit to humans or animals;
  • animals resulting from processes referred to in Article 6(d) of the Patent Act;
  • plant varieties and animal breeds (plant varieties may be granted plant variety protection according to special rules within the Patent Act); and
  • essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals (a process for the production of plants or animals is essentially biological if it consists entirely of crossing, selection or other natural phenomena).

Inventions which concern plants or animals are patentable if the technical feasibility of the invention is not confined to a particular plant variety or animal breed.

Surgical, therapeutic or diagnostic methods of treatment for humans or animals are not patentable. This provision does not apply to products used in these methods – in particular, substances (compounds) and compositions.

Are there restrictions on any other kinds of invention?

No.

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