Author: Dr. Jacekas Antulis, Associated Partner, Head of the Patent Division METIDA
On 4th September, 2014, the national route to patent inventions in accordance with the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) was terminated in Lithuania after 20 years of its existence. This treaty enabled foreign entities to easily extend their patent protection in Lithuania when they failed to do so in time under the Paris Convention.
From now on foreign entities can only extend their patent protection in Lithuania under the Paris Convention, within 12 months after the priority date either in their own country or through the European Patent Office (EPO). Yet, extending the patent protection in Lithuania under the Paris Convention is not as comfortable as under the PCT, since the former requires to complete the process within 12 months, whereas the latter within 31 months. As for the EPO route, extending the patent protection through the EPO may be more expensive if the applicant is interested to launch his services or products only in several EU states. In fact, this route is worth considering only when you intend to extend your business in many EU states. In addition, this route usually takes more time and thus, is more risky, since the EPO runs the substantial examination.
PCT and its system were created in 1970 due to the need of enhancing the patentability process in the world. At the moment the PCT system is valid in 158 countries including 40 EU states. Lithuania signed PCT on 5 July, 1994. Lithuanian inventors saw this treaty as a bridge connecting Lithuania with foreign countries business-wise, since it gave them the opportunity to complete the patentability procedures with little expense and more time.