Protection of Intellectual Property in Monaco
Intellectual property interests in Monaco consists of two main branches:
This document deals solely with the latter category, industrial property rights, in the Principality of Monaco.
Any company (civil or commercial) or individual can obtain these property rights. Residence in Monaco or Monégasque nationality is not provided that the country of origin of a foreign applicant is domiciled in a foreign country, that grants reciprocity - i.e., guarantees the same property rights to Monégasque citizens.
These property rights entitle the author/creator to a right of priority recognized by all the countries belonging to the Paris convention.
All requests for Monégasque property rights must be submitted by the applicant or his representative to the Department of Intellectual Property under the Department of Economic Growth. The Principality of Monaco has signed numerous international intellectual property agreements. These agreements make it possible to apply for international property rights based on an initial filing in Monaco. The extent of property rights as regards the number of countries covered, varies according to the nature of the property rights secured in Monaco.
What follows is a summary of the main types of property rights available.
I. National level
A. Patents (Law no. 606 of 20 June 1955, amended by Law no. 625 of 5 November 1956)
The cost of registering patents in Monaco is not very high, but they are granted without governmental guarantee, i.e., without research as to the patentable nature nor concerning precedence.
Until a patent is granted, only the applicant and his legal representatives may have access to the application. An applicant, therefore, sometimes seeks to delay the granting of the patent, which, according to the law, takes place within six months of registration. It is, therefore, possible to ask for one year's adjournment and even (with payment of additional fees) to extend the granting of the patent for up to 18 months (in practice, this extension is in addition to the basic six month period; thus, the period of secrecy can last for about two years all together).
The grant of a patent or the issuance of an additional certificate is published in a quarterly supplement to the Journal de Monaco, the official journal of Monaco. The information published is: applicant's name and address or registered office, patent number, date of filing, the date of grant, the title of the invention, its classification or classifications, and, if applicable, any priority or priorities claimed.
It is possible to claim priority based on a Monégasque patent when applying for property rights in another country, provided the foreign application is made within one year after the filing in Monaco.
Similarly, with appropriate proof, a patent filed in Monaco may claim priority based on one or several earlier filings in other jurisdictions. The applicant has 6 months to establish a priority. It is no possible to extend this period.
The maximum duration of of a Monégasque patent is 20 years from the date of filing at the Intellectual Property Department, provided the applicant timely pays all required annual fees. A word of caution, the Intellectual Property Department does not send reminders for these fees.
Patents granted in Monaco by virtue of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (the "PCT") are subject to the same general arrangements as mentioned above. European patents designating Monaco have the same legal property rights as national patents. The annual fees will only be due from the year after the publication of the grant of the patent (in general, the third year).
B - Industrial Designs (Law no. 607 of 20 June 1955, amended by Law no. 623 of 5 November 1956).
The priority rules discussed above also apply to Industrial designs, but the priority is six months, not one year.
Except as noted below, the Intellectual Property Department does not conduct any investigation before granting protection for industrial designs. Thus, to assure meaningful protection, applicants should carry out their own search by consulting the register of granted designs.
The use of certain graphics that suggest royal dwellings or a state organization of the Principality of Monaco is subject to review. In this case, the author must produce authorization for use.
The protection runs for ten years from the first deposit in Monaco with the possibility of renewal for periods of ten years, with a maximum total duration of fifty years. The department issues no renewal reminders.
As a general rule, the applicants hand in illustrations (drawings of photographs), objects, or designs, with, if necessary, an explanatory note. However, it is possible (although not customary) under certain circumstances, to submit copies of the object itself.
Design patents are granted during the quarter following deposit. Notice of the grant is published in the quarterly supplement to the Journal de Monaco, stating the number of the patent, the date of deposit, the name and address of the applicant, and the title.
If the applicant has filed an international design under the Hague Agreement, no other particular formalities in the Principality of Monaco are necessary to obtain protection within Monaco, if Monaco is designated in the international deposit. International designs are not published in the supplement to the Journal de Monaco.
N.B. Monaco permits the use of special envelopes called "Soleau" envelopes. In practice, the use of these envelopes has been extended well beyond designs to include other types of creations. These envelopes are currently sold at the Intellectual Property Department for 65 Francs. Their main purpose is to enable the author to fix an "exact date" of creation.
C. Trademarks (Law no. 1058 of 10 June 1983)
Similar to industrial designs, the Industrial Property Department will not search for the uniqueness of the mark. The Industrial Property Department will perform such a search for a fee. This us usually advised for trademarks. The right of priority is six months from the initial deposit.
Trademark protection can be refused for one of the following reasons: marks that are offensive to the public or moral order; marks protected by Article 6 of the Paris Convention, marks likely to mislead the public, and generic marks or common names.
As in the case of industrial designs, some trademarks will only be accepted upon production of the authorization of a competent authority.
The duration of trademark protection is currently 10 years starting from the first deposit in Monaco, with the possibility of multiple renewal. There are no current limits for the number of renewals. It should be noted that trademarks deposited before October 1, 1983, enjoy a longer period of protection. The department issues no renewal reminders.
Trademarks are processed within two to three months from deposit. They are published in the quarterly supplement to the Journal de Monaco. The publication mentions the protected trademark, the date of deposit, the registration number; the name and address of the owner, the categories in which protection is granted, the description of the products and services, and, if applicable, the references of the priority(ies) claimed. Publication also states whether it is a figurative trademark or a trademark with a specific graphic representation. If the trademark is based on colors, they are mentioned.
Trademarks protected in Monégasque territory through international deposit with designation of Monaco are not published in the supplement to the Journal de Monaco. Owners have no special formalities to accomplish at national level to obtain protection under the Madrid Arrangement.
II. International Level
The main international agreements signed by the Principality of Monaco and related to industrial property are the following:
These agreements provide various forms of international protection.
1. Patent Cooperation Treaty
All Monégasque citizens or residents can file an international patent, either at the Intellectual Property Department or at the World Intellectual Property Organization, or at the European Patent Office ("EPO"). Applications enable protection in some or all of the contracting countries, which, today, reach a total of over 80 countries throughout the five continents.
Applications can claim priority for a previous filing (maximum 12 months). As a general rule, the patent application is published in the PCT Gazette 18-months, after the date of priority.
All international applications are subject to search by the EPO and the establishment of an ((international search report), available to the applicant within 4 to 10 months.
It is also possible to ask for an international preliminary examination based on the international search report, according to patentable criteria (novelty, inventive step and industrial application).
The results of these reports enable the owner to decide whether or not to start the procedure at the various national or regional offices (EPO) designated in the application. In each country where the national procedure is carried out (within a period of 20 to 30 months after the priority date), the patent will be of the same value as a national patent, if the applicant fulfils the condition of regular payment of annual fees.
2. The European Patent
Monégasque nationality or residence is not required to file for a European Patent at the Intellectual Property Department. A European patent offers the possibility of obtaining protection in some or all of the member-countries (18 to date). It is possible to claim priority on a previous filing within 12 months.
The Monégasque Intellectual Property Department transfers European patent applications to the EPO for examination, search, publication, and granting of the patent.
As a general rule, the patent is published within 18 months with a search report from the earliest date of filing. After publication, it is possible to ask for examination.
Fees for filing, examination, search, and, if applicable, claim must be paid to the EPO. The annual fees must also be paid until the year of publication of grant.
Once the patent issues, any required fees must be paid to the national offices of the designated countries.
B. Industrial Designs
Any person whose nationality or domicile is in a country belonging to the Hague Agreement can obtain protection in some or all of the contracting countries, currently about twenty.
No previous national deposit is necessary. The applicant makes the request directly to WIPO on the forms available from the Intellectual Property Department.
After registration at the international level, the deposit is published in the International Industrial Designs Bulletin. This has the same effect as a national deposit in all of the countries designated. It is subject to the laws of these countries concerning industrial property, including, refusing protection, if the law of the country in question permits.
This arrangement was signed in 1925, then revised in 1934, and again in 1960. The Union includes three groups of states, depending on whether they are bound by one or the other of these acts or by both of them. Monaco is bound by both.
The deposit is subject to different rules according to the act which binds the country of origin of the applicant, and to the one which binds to the country in which property rights are required (duration of protection, effects of the deposit, etc.).
Any person from a member country can apply for protection in some or all of the contracting countries (currently 44 countries), if the trademark has been registered in his country of origin. The notion of origin is very important for Monegasque applicants registering their trademark with the INPO (France) receiving refusal of international deposit by Geneva. In this case, they must register in Monaco and make another request for international protection.
After registration of the national application, the owner may request international registration if he has already paid the corresponding fees to WIPO. After presentation of the receipt and payment of fees, the Intellectual Property Department proceeds with the formalities at WIPO.
The duration of protection is 20 years (with the possibility of paying for 10 years and then for the rest). Protection can be renewed an infinite number of times for periods of 20 years each.
When protection has been registered with WIPO, mention of protection is published in the International Trademark bulletin and sent to member countries. This gives the same effects as national trademark registration in the countries designated (as stipulated by any applicable national legislation).
The Intellectual Property Department can also provide access to databases on CD-ROM in the following areas:
It is also possible to consult international publications on patents, trademarks, and industrial designs at the Intellectual Property Department.
An information center, the Monaco Patent Information Center ("CIBIM"), is open to the public. Anyone interested may:
The forms for international and/or European filings are available upon request from:
Division de la Propriete Intellectuelle
Follow this link for a list of certain fees for filing applications and changes.
For additional reference material, see "Intellectual Property", The Principality of Monaco, A Business Guide, Principality of Monaco, Department of Economic Expansion, 1996.