Lithuania has been observing a consistent growth in the number of patented inventions. Universities and businesses, mostly patenting in the renewable energy, food industry and electronics-areas, are among the most active in this field
In 2013, the State Patent Bureau of the Republic of Lithuania has received 82 patent applications from national inventors. A number of applications is foreseen to reach 140 by the end of this year, up to 18 percent increase from 2012 with 109 applications, and approximately up by 50 percent in comparison to 2011.
Žilvinas Danys, the Deputy Director of the State Patent Bureau, says that not only the volume of applications has been on the increase but the quality of inventions is on the rise too. “We see more advanced and higher-quality inventions every year. The fields of biotechnology, energy, insulation and laser manufacturing are particularly noticeable. Foreign investors with extensive patenting expertise also have a considerable impact on that. They bring their knowledge and set the bar high for local inventors. Changes are obvious looking back at the first years since independence when largely theoretical, little applicable inventions were patented,” Mr. Danys says.
The volume of patented inventions has been substantially growing both at the national and European levels. In the last five years the number of applications submitted to the European Patent Office by the Lithuanians has risen by over 51 percent; in 2012, a total of 41 applications were submitted. Application rates of Latvia and Estonia are slightly higher, according to 2012 statistical data Latvia submitted 57, while Estonia – 52 applications, yet, Lithuania shows the biggest growth. Compared to 2008, the number of inventions presented by Latvia has grown by 5 percent and 48 percent by Estonia.
“Activities of both businesses and education institutions go beyond the borders of Lithuania and are becoming more global. Furthermore, it brings reputation, financial value gain and greater export opportunities to inventors. Respectively, the growth is also driven by the special financial aid which allows cutting patent costs by as much as up to 95 percent. Without it, inventors seeking to gain a European patent would have to spend several tens of thousands of litas,” Mr. Danys notes.
Mr. Danys says that it will be easier and cheaper to patent at European level from 2015 as a unitary European patent system is underway. Following its entry into force, inventors will only have to submit a single application for their rights to be protected in all 25 member-states of the EU. Until then, applicants seeking to patent in several member-states of the EU have to designate application to obtain a patent for each individual member-state of the EU, file an application in the language of that member-state and pay a fee every time.
“A unitary patent system means greater opportunities; however, it could also present certain challenges. Patents of foreign inventors who will be making use of this system will automatically be enforced in Lithuania as well, which results in greater competition. Both business and science have to give consideration to innovations and make sure to protect them before someone else does it first,” Mr. Danys states.
Forthcoming challenges and opportunities will be discussed in an international conference held by the State Patent Bureau (SPB) this October in Lithuania on the occasion of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU). The event will also be attended by the representatives of the key regional and global intellectual property protection institutions – the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Francis Gurry and the President of the European Patent Office (EPO) Benoît Battistelli.
by Karolina Mykolaityte