Greece: Inventions made by Greeks abroad
The number of international patent applications (PCT and European applications) filed before the Greek patent office as receiving office has been steadily rising over the last few years. However this is certainly not the result of an economic growth. On the contrary the country has been in recession and the market has been shrinking over the years.
The rise in the number of applications seems to be an indirect effect of the migration of Greeks abroad. With a youth unemployment rate reaching close to 50%, thousands of young, educated Greeks have left the country to work in wealthier countries, mostly in western Europe.
In cases where they are working in scientific research that may result in patent applications, there is an absolute obligation that such patent applications be filed first in Greece. According to legislation dating back to 1963 (law 4325/63) all patent applications by Greek nationals need to be first filed in Greece in order to receive a check to determine whether they are relevant to national security. Accordingly, the restrictions apply to all inventions, having no priority application filed in Greece, where the inventor or applicant is a Greek citizen, regardless of whether he or she is resident in Greece.
It is worth noting that there are no provisions to allow one to retroactively correct a mistake if such an invention was first filed abroad. There are also no provisions for obtaining a security clearance or a foreign filing licence. Breach of the obligation to first file in Greece is considered a criminal offence, which could result to imprisonment of the inventor or applicant disclosing the invention abroad. While the legal provisions have not been applied in practice, they still exist, so an applicant or inventor would need to assess the risk, in such circumstances, before making a decision to first file abroad. In order to comply with the legal requirements, the applicant can either file a Greek national application, a European application or a PCT application, filed before the Greek patent office as receiving office. Apart from these criminal sanctions, there are no implications for the validity of the patent application of a Greek applicant or inventor, first filed abroad.
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