Patents and Utility Models: General legislation

United Kingdom


The Amendment Act of 22 December 1995, which came into force during 1996 and 1997, amended the Patents Act of 15 December 1967. These are the most important changes:

  • Priority. There is now priority from time of application in all WTO member states.
  • Opposition procedure. Under the new procedure, publication takes place after the patent has been granted, followed by a 9 month period during which objections may be filed with the Patent Office.
  • Limitation of the patent right. The scope of patents can now be limited by the Patent Office. This remedies the unfortunate results that could stem from revocation proceedings under the old law where the patent could only be revoked or confirmed. This could lead to the patentee losing the patent entirely even if it could have been valid with more limited scope. This is of importance when revocation proceedings are instituted. It may also facilitate voluntary settlements.
  • Compulsory licensing. Following Norway's accession to the TRIPS agreement minor adjustments were made to the provisions concerning compulsory licensing.

The current Portuguese Industrial Property Code, came into force on 1 June 1995. As explained at page 8, the main changes simplify various administrative procedures (but note that the basic time for filing oppositions against patent and utility model applications is three months, not two). Under its patent and utility model provisions:

  • patent applications may be either totally or partially granted;
  • the duration of a patent is 20 years from the date when the application is filed;
  • pharmaceutical and chemical products may be protected by patent;
  • biotechnological inventions require the deposit of materials at authorised institutions; and
  • the duration of utility models is now limited to 15 years from the date when the application is filed.