Comprehensive patent consulting



A patent is a certificate granted by a State that recognizes the owner’s right to prevent, within the territory of said State and during a specific period of time, third parties from manufacturing, selling, using, importing, exporting or marketing the patented invention without the owner’s consent.

A solid and appropriate protection of an invention through patents, utility models or industrial designs entails a competitive advantage over any competitor. Therefore, UNGRIA´s team, led by European Patent Attorneys, is at your disposal to advise and help you in establishing the best IP protection strategy to fit your specific needs. Of course, we will also prepare the complete documentation required, including the technical specification, claims, drawings, figures, etc., as well as manage the entire processing procedure and guide you when necessary to resolve any incidents that may arise.

The extensive experience, areas of expertise and professionalism of our technicians, position UNGRIA as one of the leaders in the number applications for patents, utility models and industrial designs in Spain.

Biotechnology & Life Sciences
Chemistry, Pharmaceuticals & Materials
Electronic Engineering & Telecommunications
Information and Communications Technology & Computer Implemented Inventions
Mechanical Engineering & Construction
Physics & Optics

To obtain the most suitable protection for your inventions, technical innovations and creations of shape and design, we will advise you about:

  • Types of registered protection available.
  • Geographical scope possible.
  • International treaties applicable to the case.
  • Patentability or registrability requirements, with special attention to possible priority claims, deadlines, and subsequent prosecution (request for examination, validations, etc.).

Research on possible prior art can be performed before filing an application for a patent, utility model or intellectual design. Searches can be carried out based on the subject matter in question or on names of the possible owners. The aim is to discover, to the extent possible, the existence of prior art in order to study and decide, based on the obtained results, what, how and where to patent.

Our team of technicians, with experience in all areas of technology, will advise you on these matters and prepare the complete documentation of your patent, utility model or intellectual design application, so that it has the greatest strength, validity and protection possible.


To apply for a patent, utility model, or intellectual design, we will need you to provide us with all the information, as detailed as possible, on the object, method, or use for which you wish to obtain protection. We will also need the details for the natural or legal person who is to be the owner of the application.

From this, we will prepare the specification, claims, figures or drawings, abstract and/or description, as the case may be, as well as the rest of the required documentation, both in Spain and in any other country in the world, in whatever language it is necessary.


Once your patent, utility model or intellectual design application has been filed with the corresponding patent office, it will be included in our database, which enables us to perform a double follow up:

  • On the one hand, we will constantly track the different prosecution stages, in all countries and regions, and once grant takes place, we will monitor the patent throughout its entire legal life. In this way, you will always have the necessary information and warnings about the actions that must be completed (annuity payments, implementation, etc.) in order to maintain the patent in force.
  • On the other hand, we will be able to monitor third-party applications that might affect or be related to yours. You will, therefore, have information on potential competitors and, if applicable, decide on the appropriateness of filing observations or oppositions against their grant.

Patents and utility models are granted for a specific term (in most countries, 20 years from the application date for patents, and fewer for utility models). Their validity is determined by the payment of maintenance fees, which are usually annual, during this term. In the case of industrial designs, most jurisdictions grant them for a period of five years from the application date, this being renewable for four consecutive additional periods of five years, up to a maximum of 25 years.

Our management team will give you sufficient advance warning for each of the payments necessary to maintain your Intellectual Property certificates, no matter their type or jurisdiction, and will make the payments on your behalf once your instructions have been received.


A patent is a certificate granted by a State that recognizes the owner's right to prevent, within the territory of said State and during a specific period of time, third parties from manufacturing, selling, using, importing, exporting or marketing the patented invention without the owner's consent.

The drawback of this monopoly based on temporary exclusion is that the patent owner must allow the detailed description of the invention to be disclosed and made publicly available, such that anyone can freely use it once the patent has expired.

A patent may protect a novel and inventive method, apparatus, product and/or use, or the refinement or improvement thereof. It is important to highlight that, in any case, the right granted by a patent is "negative". That is to say, it is a right to "exclude" others, rather than to "include" the owner. The granting of a patent does not authorize the owner to use or apply an invention, but rather only gives them the right to prevent third parties from using it.

As a general rule, the maximum term of a patent is 20 years from the application date, and is subject to annuity payments. In some countries there are utility models in addition to patents. In Spain these have a maximum term of 10 years. To protect the appearance of a product there is industrial design protection, which in Spain has a maximum term of 25 years, through consecutive five-year renewal periods.


Processing patents may vary from country to country. Aspects relating to the application, granting or renewal, or issues such as whether or not there is a patentability examination before granting, depend on the specific legislation of each country or region.

However, there are several common characteristics due to international efforts towards greater harmonization. Generally, processing a patent consists of a stage where an application is filed before the relevant state institution. This is followed by other stages, once an examination regarding formal issues is carried out, in which a background search, patentability examination, granting and renewal of rights are carried out. At some point in the processing, there will also be at least one stage where third parties may file observations and/or oppose the granting of the patent, as well as different possibilities for filing appeals.

In Spain, on April 1st, 2017 the new Patent Law (Law 24/2015, of July 24th) entry into force. This new law adapts the legislation to current needs regarding patents and integrates various international treaties and European directives that have been implemented. Among the changes introduced, it is worth mentioning the compulsory substantive examination (the possibility of obtaining patents without examination disappears) or the introduction of a post-grant opposition system, similar to that which exists for European patents (although the period is significantly shorter). Other important changes include the advance payment of the search fee at the time of the request; the possibility of revocation or limitation of the patent, by modifying the claims, at the request of the owner, or in the response of the claim for nullity or counterclaim for nullity; the creation of the figure of preventive writings, in anticipation of possible interpositions of precautionary measures; or various regulatory aspects of legal actions related to infringement, validity or compulsory licenses.

Any private or legal individual may apply for a patent. In turn, this may be transferred, assigned, licensed, etc. to third parties through the appropriate legal channels. UNGRIA's team is at your disposal to advise and help you in establishing the best industrial protection strategy to fit your specific needs. Of course, we will also prepare the complete documentation required, including the technical specification, claims, drawings, figures, etc., as well as manage the entire processing procedure and guide you when necessary to resolve any incidents that may arise.


Protection for inventions outside Spain

To protect an invention in other countries that are members of the Paris Convention and the World Trade Organization, the applicant can exercise the right to priority. After filing a patent application in Spain, the applicant has 12 months to also file it in other countries, maintaining the filing date in Spain (priority date) as the filing date of these subsequent applications.

In addition, there is the possibility of carrying out depository applications in order to file in several countries at the same time. For example, once an application has been filed in Spain, and before the end of the 12 months, an international application can be filed (known as a PCT application), which is equivalent to filing in 150 countries, and maintaining the priority date.

Is everything patentable?

Almost all patent legislation contains exclusions and limitations regarding patentable subject matter and the rights of owners. For example, according to Spanish legislation, and that of other neighboring countries, the following are not patentable:

  • Discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods.
  • Literary and artistic works or any other aesthetic creation, as well as scientific works.
  • Plans, rules, and methods for the pursuit of intellectual activities, playing games, or economic and business activities, as well as computer programs.
  • Ways of presenting information
  • Inventions whose publication or exploitation would be contrary to public order or morality.

There are additional exclusions related to life science, in fields such as medicine, biology or agriculture. Among them are:

  • Plant and animal varieties. However, inventions where the subject matter is plants or animals are patentable if the technical feasibility of the invention is not confined to a particular plant variety or animal breed.
  • Essentially biological methods for the production of plants and animals. To this end, methods that are considered "essentially biological" are those that consist entirely of natural phenomena such as crossbreeding or selection.
  • The human body, in the different stages of its formation and development, as well as the simple discovery of one of its elements.
  • Surgical or therapeutic treatment procedures applicable to the human body or to the bodies of animals, or diagnostic procedures which are carried out on the human body or the bodies of animals. However, products are patentable, in particular substances or compositions, as well as inventions of apparatuses or instruments for the implementation of such procedures.
  • Methods for cloning human beings.
  • Methods for modifying the germline genetic identity of human beings.
  • The use of human embryos for industrial or commercial purposes.
  • Methods for modifying the genetic identity of animals which are likely to cause them suffering, without any substantial medical benefit, or animals resulting from such processes.

With regards to utility models, the entry into force of the new Patent Law (Law 24/2015, of July 24th) the possibilities of protection have been extended to also include (i) chemical products, substances or compositions, (ii) the novelty requirement has been raised (which now must be absolute) and (iii) the completion of the state of the art report before carrying out any action or claim is required. The exclusion is upheld for method inventions, food and inventions with biological subject matter, as well as for pharmaceutical substances and compositions (these being understood as those intended for use as medicine for humans or animals).

Patent Maintenance

Owners must pay annual maintenance fees at the time of patent application prosecution, as well as to maintain it in force once granted. These annual fees progressively increase up to the amount corresponding to the twentieth year.

I have a novel idea. Should I patent it and why?

Abstract ideas cannot be patented. What can be patented is the specific and practical development of an idea. Any technical improvement or refinement to a product, system, apparatus, device, process, use and/or method can be patented.

A patent confers to its owner the right to exclude, for a specific time and in a specific territory, any type of commercial activity of the patented invention by third parties. If you own a patent, you will be able to benefit from this temporary monopoly granted by the State, and will be in a better situation compared to your competitors.

What requirements must a patent fulfill?

Patent law establishes three objective requirements that an invention must fulfill for it to be patentable:

  • Novelty. An invention is said to be novel when it is not included in the State of the Art, which comprises all information made available to the public by any means before the filing date of the patent application.

    This means that marketing a product whose patent application has not been filed beforehand will allow third parties to freely take advantage of that invention, along with the effort invested in producing it.

  • Inventive Step. The established criterion is generally that the difference between the object of the invention and the closest document from the State of the Art should not be obvious or, in other words, should not be inferable by "a person skilled in the art".

  • Industrial application. The invention must be able to be used or manufactured in some type of industry, including agriculture.

Is there an ideal time to patent an invention? When should I do it?

A patent should be applied for before disclosing the invention through any means. All tests or operational checks should be carried out in secret or under confidentiality agreements.

UNGRIA does not need a prototype to draw up the technical report of your invention. We only need you to explain to us the content of the invention, its background, elements, purpose, how it works and the benefits it provides.

In any case, what you should do is "keep it to yourself, protect it and, then, disclose it", in that order. It is essential that a third party does not get ahead of you.

How can I patent a product or manufacturing process?

A legal technical dossier should be created which includes the following: the specification of the invention, stating all of its novel characteristics; all the necessary figures or drawings; an abstract; and a complete list of claims that cover the greatest scope of protection possible. All of these elements should follow the procedural rules established in patent law.

Where are patents filed?

For inventions made in Spain, patent applications shall be filed before the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (SPTO). Spanish law assumes that, unless proven otherwise, an invention has been made in Spain if the applicants have their residence or registered office in Spain. The SPTO, an agency of the Ministry of industry, Commerce and Tourism, is the competent body to process and issue intellectual property titles in our country.

A patent application filed in Spain can be extended later to other countries, using different options that are explained in our section on "Patents in other countries". A European patent application or an international application also can be filed directly.

The specification of a patent application requires thorough preparation since it is a legal document with highly technical content. With this in mind, we strongly recommend using the professional services of an Intellectual Property Agent.

At UNGRIA, we will advise you, prepare all the necessary documentation, file your application with the SPTO, follow up on its prosecution, defend its viability against possible objections from the authorities or opposition from third parties, and constantly monitor your patent throughout its entire legal life.

Is the patent only valid in Spain? Is there a global patent?

The patent granted by the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office gives us a right with effects in Spain. However, the patent application date also gives us a one-year period during which we can apply for the same patent application to be extended to most countries (right of priority), using the different options mentioned in the "Patents in other countries" section.

Although it is possible to prosecute a patent application simultaneously and in a unified way for specific countries, there is no such thing as a "global patent".

Is a patent the same thing as a utility model?

No. They are two different types of intellectual property rights. They are set out in Spanish legislation as well as in that of a number of other countries.

The "invention patent" is the most important industrial property certificate. It is granted to a novel and inventive apparatus, system, device, product, use or method. The "utility model" is also an industrial property certificate and it is usually used to protect technical improvements to products that are already known. These improvements provide some practical advantage to the use or manufacture of the product.

According to the current legislation, in Spain, the level of inventive step required for utility models is lower than for patents. Methods and procedures, as well as inventions relating to biological material and pharmaceutical substances and compositions, are excluded from this type of protection. Utility models are granted with no substantive examination of patentability. Their maximum duration is 10 years, instead of 20, which is the maximum term for patents.

At UNGRIA, we will advise you, case by case, on the best type of protection for your invention.

For how long does the monopoly granted by patents last?

The maximum duration is 20 years for patents and 10 years for utility models, both starting from the application date. For a patent to remain in effect, a growing annuity must be paid, starting from its third year. Patent holders can stop paying annuities when they decide that the object of protection has become obsolete. The patent would then become part of the public domain.

Does a patent have to be exploited?

It is important to note that the application for a patent should be filed before its object is exploited, so that novelty is not destroyed. After filing, legislation grants a period with enough time to start exploiting (manufacturing or selling) the object of the patent. This exploitation can be carried out by the holder or a third party authorized by the holder. The period shall be four years from the patent application date or three years from the publication date of the grant, whichever period has a later expiration date. Said publication is made in the Official Intellectual Property Bulletin. This prevents a third party from claiming a non-exclusive compulsory license.

What are the advantages of patents?

A patent confers a right to prohibit third parties from exploiting (manufacturing, selling, using, importing, etc.) its object in the countries where it is in effect.

A well-prepared patent with a novel object gives its owner an advantage over competitors. Therefore, its purpose is to:

  • Defend the position of the holder in a competitive market.

  • Enter new markets by offering a new and improved product.

  • Make a claim before the court if there is infringement by a third party.

Can any new invention be patented?

No. Legislation does not allow discoveries, scientific theories, mathematical models, economic/business models or inventions contrary to public order or proper practice to be patented.

Furthermore, literary, artistic or scientific works cannot be patented, although they can and should be protected by Intellectual Property Law.

Lastly, software as such cannot be patented (although it may be included in hardware patents). Possible computer program patents, however, remain subject to major debate in the scientific community, and each case should be studied to decide upon the best protection solution.

Does the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office study the novelty of patents?

Patent applications filed before April 1, 2017 can be granted without a preliminary examination. For applications filed from that date, current law requires a substantive examination which involves a detailed analysis of the requirements for patentability, including novelty, inventive step and sufficiency of disclosure.

Utility models, however, are granted without examination, but with a call for possible oppositions by third parties once the application is published in the Official Intellectual Property Bulletin. Nevertheless, the law requires that a Search Report be performed by the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office before taking any legal actions to exercise the exclusive rights.

What can I do if an invention relates only to the appearance of a product?

The figure of industrial design was created to protect the appearance of new products, provided that this is not dictated by technical, but aesthetic features. The object of protection of an industrial design is the appearance of part of, or a whole, product, that is derived from features such as lines, contours, colors, shape, texture, materials or ornamentation.

This type of intellectual protection is very important. Consumers often choose a product not based on its technical characteristics, which are taken for granted, but on its appearance, which gives added value to the industrial product.

For how long is the registration of an industrial design valid?

The application covers a period of five years, and it can be renewed for four consecutive five-year periods, such that its maximum duration is 25 years. When its legal existence ends, the design becomes part of the public domain.

Is the industrial design only valid in Spain?

An industrial design filed with the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office provides a right with effects in Spain. Nevertheless, the application date of a Spanish industrial design also gives the applicant a six-month period (right of priority) during which they can apply to extend and protect the design in most countries, using the different options mentioned in the "Patents in other countries" section.

Is it correct to say, "I want to patent a trademark"?

No. Inventions with technical features are patented. Trademarks and trade names are registered. Their characteristics are explained in the "Trademarks in Spain" and "Trademarks in other countries" sections.

I have a patent in Spain. Can I extend its protection to other countries?

It depends on the application date of the patent or utility model in Spain. The application date with the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office does not only grant national priority to that invention, but also allows it to be extended to many countries up to one year after this date. If this one-year period has elapsed and the application has not been extended to other countries, we can only enforce its exclusive rights in Spain.

My Spanish patent was applied for ten months ago and it does not seem like it will be granted before the end of the one-year period. Can I extend it to other countries while the Spanish patent is still being processed?

Yes: you can and should if you want to claim priority. It must be noted that the date governing the right of priority is the date of patent application, not of patent grant, which usually takes much longer than a year. Furthermore, the registration authorities of other countries are not bound by the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office's decision to grant or deny the patent, meaning that a patent granted in Spain may be granted in some countries, but not in others.

What are the options to protect a patent outside of Spain?

Any of the following routes can be used, as long as they are used within one year of the priority date:

  • The national route: applying to extend the priority patent application in each of the countries of interest. The patent application will be filed country by country (or region).

  • Applications that designate several countries can be filed using existing international agreements. Some possibilities include:

  • The so called European route: Filing an application at the European Patent Office, claiming priority from previously filed patent application(s). This allows for a single prosecution process until grant. Once granted, the European patent can be validated in the member states of interest of the European Patent Organization, as well as in countries with validation and extension agreements. The member countries are: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and United Kingdom. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro are extension countries, while Cambodia, Morocco, Republic of Moldova, and Tunisia are validation countries.

    The European patent is not to be confused with the "Unitary Patent", which does not exist as of yet.

  • The PCT route: while this is not a patent per se, since there is not an actual grant, this option can be used to apply for the extension of a patent application to over 150 countries. PCT is the acronym for the Patent Cooperation Treaty. This option is an interim step that allows the filing of the patent application in most countries or regions of interest to be delayed. For further information, please see the FAQs related to the international (PCT) application.

Both the European route and the international route (PCT) can be used for the first application (i.e. skipping the step of a national priority application).

Which of these options do you recommend the most?

The options are not mutually exclusive, but rather, in certain circumstances, complementary.

The decision depends on various factors. For example, the final number of countries to which the patent will be extended, the benefits or lack thereof of delaying or advancing those extensions, the wish to advance or delay some or all possible grants, geographic areas of interest for the patent, etc.

At UNGRIA, we will advise you, prepare all the necessary documentation, file your application or applications with the appropriate organizations, follow up on their prosecution, defend their viability against possible objections from the authorities or opposition from third parties, and constantly monitor your patent throughout its entire legal life.

What special characteristics does a European patent have?

It can be based on a Spanish patent or utility model application, by claiming priority from it; it can represent a phase entry of an international (PCT) application; or it can be filed directly as a priority application.

The application must be prosecuted in one of the three official languages of the European Patent Office (EPO): French, English or German. The EPO carries out a technical examination of the patentability requirements and resolves to grant or refuse a European patent. Its decision is binding for the registration authorities of the designated countries. For the granting to be effective, said patent must be validated in each one of the countries of interest.

This way, what started off as a single patent application becomes a bundle of national patents, the maintenance of which must be done individually, country by country.

For how long is a European patent valid?

Its maximum duration is 20 years from the application date, as long as the annuities are paid. These annuities are paid centrally to the European Patent Office while the patent application is being prosecuted, and to each one of the countries in which it is validated once the patent has been granted.

What are the advantages of using the European patent route?

When the intention is to obtain a patent in several member states, extension countries and/or validation countries, the prosecution and resolution of the patent application is greatly simplified. The application is subjected to a single examination process, rather than to several independent examinations carried out by the national authorities of each country. This also implies a significant reduction in the final costs. The grant of o European patent can represent also a distinction to the applicant.

What are the disadvantages of using the European route?

Since the examination carried out by the European Patent Office is binding for all designated countries, the result of said examination will affect all of the countries in question. If the European patent is refused, the patent cannot be validated in the designated countries and the applicant cannot reapply for it later on, not even country by country, since it would then lack novelty.

What is the initial advantage of a PCT patent application?

This agreement allows the use of a unified process for a patent application which subsequently permits its extension to over 150 countries around the world. This extension is delayed up to 30 (or 31, depending on country) months from the priority date, instead of 12 months. The International Search Authority will issue a search report and a written opinion that will allow the applicant to assess the appropriateness or not of continuing prosecution in each country of interest. The application must be filed within one year of the priority date. It can be filed with the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office in Spanish, meaning that the initial costs will be low in comparison to the protection that it is expected to offer in most countries around the world. It can also be filed with the EPO in one of its official languages.

What procedures does a PCT patent application follow?

The prosecution procedure has two main phases:

  • The international phase, which is centralized and allows the applicant to delay their decision as to which countries they will file an application for. In addition, a search report and a written opinion are provided in order to help make this decision.

  • The national phase, in which the application becomes effective in each PCT member country or region of interest.

What does the international phase of the PCT consist of?

One of the International Search Authorities (ISA) designated by the World Intellectual Property Organization carries out an international search report to determine the patentability of the invention. It also expresses its preliminary opinion as to whether or not the PCT patent application fulfills the patentability requirements. Although said opinion is not binding, it can be used to give the applicant an initial assessment on which to base later decisions regarding the desirability of continuing, modifying or abandoning their application.

18 months after the earliest priority date the international application is published, making its content public.

Optionally, and given the aforementioned search report and preliminary opinion, an additional analysis of patentability, called an International Preliminary Examination, can be carried out. This examination, which is normally performed for modified patent applications, is carried out by one of the IPEAs (International Preliminary Examining Authorities).

The Spanish Patent and Trademark Office can act as an ISA and an IPEA, meaning both procedures can be carried out in Spanish. They can also be performed by the European Patent Office in one of its official languages.

What does the national phase of the PCT consist of?

After the international phase, normally 30 months after the first initial date of the application from which priority is claimed, the patent application must be entered in each one of the national and/or regional Patent Offices of the countries of interest.

The PCT application then becomes a series of national and/or regional applications that should be prosecuted independently. The result of a national phase is not binding for the different authorities, but it does constitute a qualified opinion.

What is a patent family?

It is a group of patents and patent applications for the same invention, filed in one or different countries, which claim the same priority. Ultimately, it is a single, initial patent application and all other applications that stem from it, extended to different countries in different languages. By knowing the patent family, we can know the degree of territorial extension and scope of protection for an invention.

Can I protect my Spanish industrial design outside of Spain?

Of course you can. You can extend your application outside of Spain, within six months of the application date of the industrial design, using a number of options:

  • The national route: applying to extend it to each one of the countries of interest (country by country).

  • The Community route: applying to extend it to all member states of the European Union, as provided for in the Regulation (EC) on Community Designs, through a single application.

  • The international route: applying to extend it through the Hague Agreement, which has more than 60 member states.

These routes also can be used for the first application (i.e. skipping the step of a Spanish priority application).

Which of the three options is the best one for my industrial design?

The options are not mutually exclusive. Depending on the case, they can even be complementary. The most important factor is the countries of interest.

For example, if there is an incentive for European countries, the best option is to file for a Community design. Since the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) issues a unitary property certificate for the European Union, countries can neither be chosen nor omitted.

A Community design can also be part of or the base to claim priority for an international industrial design that also includes other countries.

At UNGRIA, we will advise you, prepare all the necessary documentation, file your application or applications with the appropriate organizations, follow up on their prosecution, defend their viability against possible objections from the authorities or opposition from third parties, and constantly monitor your designs throughout their entire legal life.

What are the characteristics of a Community design?

Uniform protection in all European Union countries is obtained through a single application. Prosecution is simple and results in a single property certificate issued by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), to which third parties may file their opposition after the design has been granted.

For how long is the registration of a Community design valid?

The same as a Spanish industrial design: the initial application is for a period of five years and can be renewed for four consecutive five-year periods, such that its maximum duration is 25 years.

What are the characteristics of an international industrial model?

A single international application replaces an entire series of applications that otherwise would have had to be filed with different national or regional authorities.

It should be noted that the international registration system is only an agreement on international filing procedure. Once the international registration is published, each designated Office will carry out the in-depth examination provided for by its own legislation. In other words, all fundamental aspects of protection depend entirely on the national legislation of each country or designated contracting party.