Two ways to apply for a patent in Norway:
- File a patent application to the Norwegian Industrial Property Office (NIPO), either directly or via the international PCT system. Most Norwegian applicants file their applications directly to NIPO, while foreign applicants usually use the PCT system.
- File a patent application to the European Patent Office (EPO). The European patent may be validated in Norway at a later date. It is mainly foreign applicants who use this system.
The total number of patent rights in Norway are a combination of these. A patent can be maintained for up to 20 years from the day you filed the application, provided you pay the annual fees. The average lifespan for a Norwegian patent is 15 years.
Patents: figures for period 2014-2016
|Patent applications total||1564||1805||2062|
|- direct to NIPO from Norwegian applicants||1052||1120||1196|
|- direct to NIPO from foreign applicants||95||129||121|
|- international applications to Norway via PCT Norwegian applicants||55||31||38|
|- international applications to Norway via PCT from foreign applicants||362||525||708|
|Percentage patent applications from Norwegian applicants||71%||64%||60%|
|Decisions in patent applications||3610||3651||4585|
|- granted patents||1433||1449||2526|
|- finally shelved or withdrawn||2156||2183||2043|
|Validated European patents i Norway||2556||3341||4438|
|Total number of patents in effect (Norwegian patents and European patents validated in Norway)||21218||23350||27657|
In 2015 we experienced a large increase in the number of patent applications, and in 2016 14% more patent applications were filed than in 2015. The large increase comes from foreign applicants (26.6%), but there was also an increase in the number of applications filed by Norwegian applicants (7%).
As expected, there has been an increase in the number of European patents validated in Norway following accession to EPC (European Patent Convention) in 2008. Growth has been greater than expected and is principally due to a steady rise in the number of approved patents in the European Patent Organisation (EPO).
A European patent is normally validated in Norway three months after being granted by EPO. We anticipate a further increase in the number of validated European patents in Norway.
Patent applications decided
Around 55% of patent applications decided in 2016 led to patents. This percentage has increased in recent years. A small number of applications are rejected, mainly because the invention for which a patent application is filed is not new.
Most patent applications that do not lead to a patent are shelved because the applicant does not reply or pay, or because the applicant withdraws the application. When cases are shelved, it is often because NIPO has notified the applicant that the invention cannot be patented.
The low number of rejections is therefore not an indication of the percentage of cases where the NIPO assessment is "negative".
NIPO decided more patent applications in 2016 than in 2015, and the number of cases in processing was reduced by 21%. In 2015, we introduced simplified (fast track) processing of patent applications in cases in which a corresponding application has already been approved in EPO, the Nordic countries and Germany.
Patent applications filed in English
Since 2015, it has been possible to file patent applications at NIPO in English. The percentage of applications in English increased in 2016 from 58% to 72%, and the arrangement is now contributing to substantial simplification and cost savings for many customers.
Number of first applications for patents
Of the 2 062 patent applications filed at NIPO in 2016, 1 459 were first applications, that is to say applications in which the invention is mentioned for the first time (without priority from other applications). Of these, 1 140 were from Norwegian applicants and 319 from foreign applicants.
Case processing time
Case processing time in the area of patents for several reasons is longer than for trademarks and designs. It is important for applicants filing a first application for a patent on an invention to obtain a quick indication of whether the invention can be patented. This is due to the need to meet deadlines in order to file equivalent applications in other countries with priority from the first application. NIPO therefore has a target of issuing a first statement within 7 months for at least 95% of first applications. This target was attained in 2016, and in this area we are best placed out of the Nordic countries.
NIPO on average takes just under 28 months to complete processing of first applications - around the same level as EPO. In 2016 this time was reduced by around two months.
International patent applications (PCT) entering the national phase in Norway and applications previously filed in other countries have already been reviewed, and the applicant therefore does not need such fast processing at NIPO. We are now working on the last part of the backlog, which consists of applications built up during the time before Norway became a member of EPO in 2008.
First applications filed at NIPO
Patent applicants often choose to file the first application for a patent (the first application) in their home country and then to apply for patents in other countries with priority from this first application. Proximity and good communication with the patent office in their own country is often the reason why this choice is made. The percentage of first applications from Norwegian applicants filed at NIPO may be an indication of how satisfied the applicants are with the processing of applications. At the same time, it is not a requirement that the first application is filed in the applicant's own country, and for strategic reasons it may be appropriate to file the first application in other countries or at EPO.
When applying for a patent in more than one country, it is usual to use the PCT system and file an international patent application which is reviewed by an approved PCT authority and later to extend the application to the countries in which patent protection is wanted. The applicant can start the patent application process by filing such a PCT application, so that it becomes the first application. The normal procedure is to file the first application in the applicant's own country, in another country or at EPO, and then to file an international application with priority from the first application.
The table below shows that more than half of international patent applications (PCT) filed by Norwegian applicants have priority from a Norwegian application, meaning that the application was first filed at NIPO. The remainder of the international applications from Norwegian applicants had principal priority from the United States, the United Kingdom and EPO.
The figures are based on the year in which the application was published. The percentage with Norwegian priority has varied somewhat in recent years, but is between 47 and 55%.
|Percentage international applications (PCT) from Norwegian applicants with priority from Norwegian application||47%||49%||53%||55%||52%|
|Number of international applications (PCT) from Norwegian applicants with priority from Norwegian application||849||704||735||681||678|