If an applicant intends to obtain a patent for invention in Lithuania, its choice is limited to three routes—to file a national patent application directly to the State Patent Bureau of Lithuania; to file an international application with the World Intellectual Property Organization and proceed to the European patent system; or file a patent application directly with European Patent Office as an European patent application and after grant, validate it in Lithuania.
If an application is filed directly with the State Patent Bureau as a national application, it is examined only for formal requirements according to the Patent Law of Lithuania.
After the application is examined for formal requirements, it is published after 18 months from the date of filing. A patent is granted soon after the prescribed fees are paid (usually within additional one to four months). Because no substantial examination is performed and patent grant may be expected in about two years, Lithuanian patents can be compared to utility models in other countries.
A national patent application may be filled by an inventor himself or herself or by his or her successor in title (in case the inventor has transferred the rights to a third person), or by his or her employer (in case of the service invention). The application documents may also be filled through a representative—a patent attorney, whose participation in some cases is compulsory for applicants, who are not subjects of the European economic area. An authorisation may be documented in a simple written form.
When filing a national application with the State Patent Bureau, an applicant can use a prescribed form of writing to a request to grant a patent in a free form. In the latter case, such a free form request must be accompanied by the official form request, which must be submitted within three months of notification from the national patent bureau. All documents must be submitted in the Lithuanian language. If they are submitted in a foreign language, their translation into the national language must be delivered within three months of notification from the national patent bureau. In cases where foreign documents are submitted to the State Patent Bureau, no legalisation or certification with apostille is required.
An applicant may request priority on the grounds of previously submitted applications. Documents attesting the priority right must be submitted within 16 months from the date of submitting the respective patent applications in other countries.
Filing a national patent application is subjected to certain fees, which may accrue around 1,000 euros, which must be paid within one month from the date of filing the application. Such an invention patent is valid only in Lithuania and the rights of the patent holder are protected under Lithuania’s Patent Law.
If an application for a patent is filed as an international application, it has to enter the European regional phase and only after the European patent grant may it be validated in Lithuania.
The process is more expensive, time-consuming and is risky compared to the national route due to substantial examination on patentability according to European Patent Convention. Filing a European patent application directly with EPO is also not advisable if one is considering obtaining only a Lithuanian patent.
The European patent system is a well-functioning patenting system for the centralised granting of patents in several countries at a time. It ensures the validity of the European patents in Lithuania—a party to the European Patent Convention. In our opinion, the prospective unitary patent system will not become a full-fledged substitute of the usual patent system, but will rather supplement it.
The advantages of a unitary patent system will include: no fees for translation and representation in national countries, no actions in national offices, wider automatic effect, simplified access to the system, fewer intermediary steps, and the ensured principle of the single market.