Croatia IP Development

Croatia has a high level of legislative alignment in the area of intellectual property rights.
    Croatia has produced a National Strategy for the development of its Intellectual Property System. Its implementation would allow adequate reinforcement of administrative capacity, which involves substantial investments and reforms, including the judiciary, and needs to be monitored carefully.
Croatian provisions concerning patents are contained in the Patent Act of 2003 and the Patent Regulation of 2004, both in force since 2004. Croatia is party to the main international agreements in the area of industrial property.
    To request a patent, an application is lodged to State Intellectual Property Organization (SIPO). After 18 months it is published in the SIPO gazette. No search report is made at this stage. After publication, the applicant may request a patent with substantive examination, or a consensual patent, i.e. without substantive examination.
    Substantive examinations may be performed by SIPO or by another patent office on the basis of an agreement.
    Patents are granted for 20 years, to any invention in any field of technology which involves an inventive step and is susceptible to industrial applications. Consensual patents' duration is limited to 10 years. Opposition to granting the consensual patent may be filed by any interested person within six months from the publication.
Concerning trademarks, Croatia is party to the Madrid Protocol and the Madrid Agreement, as well as to the Nice Agreement and Vienna Agreement. The Croatian legislation on trademarks consists of the Trademark Act of 2003 in force since 1 January 2004, the Regulation on Trademarks of 2003 and the Act of Ratification of the Madrid Agreement.
    The Trademark Act contains the list of signs, which can be protected as trademarks. A registered trademark grants to its owner the absolute right to make use of itand to prevent others from using it without his consent. Certain limitations to this absolute right are laid down in Article 10 of the Croatian Trademark Act.
    Exhaustion of rights is foreseen at the national level, but would be extended by force of the membership to international agreements, including EU accession. The proprietor of the mark may not oppose its use, if the products have been put onto the market with his consent. The trademark must be used within 5 years or else can be revoked.
    The SIPO intends to refuse the application, the applicant has the opportunity to give counter arguments. In case of a favorable assessment, the application is published in the SIPO gazette, and if there are no oppositions within 3 months, the mark is registered. Protection is granted for 10 years. Collective trademarks can also be registered.
Industrial Design
The provisions related to industrial designs have been introduced into the Croatian legal order, namely in the Industrial Design Act of 2003 and the Regulation on Industrial Designs. Croatia is party to the Hague Agreement and the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement. In order to benefit from protection, an industrial design has to be new and present an individual character.
    The holder of a design has the exclusive right to prevent others from using the design.
    If the formalities have been complied with and no absolute grounds for refusal exist, the design is published in the official journal. Duration of protection is 5 years, renewable up to 25 years.
Copyright and Neighboring Rights
    The main legal references for copyrights and neighboring rights in Croatia are the Copyright and Related Rights Act (CA) adopted and entered into force in October 2003. In the area of copyrights, Croatia has adhered to the Berne Convention for the protection of literary and artistic works, and the Rome Convention on the protection of performers, producers and phonogram and broadcasting organizations, with three reservations to the Rome Convention.
    Provisions on terms of protection for author's rights guarantee protection for 70 years from the death of the author, or from the death of the last surviving author, in the case of joint ownership. Rights of the authors of compound works are calculated separately for each author.
    Computer programs are protected as per the Berne Convention. Protection is granted to Croatian nationals and EU citizens on the basis of reciprocity. National exhaustion also applies to provisions protecting computer programs. The duration of protection is 70 years from the death of the author.

Source: International IP Law Firms

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