PATENT EXPROPRIATION UNDER THE SPANISH PATENT ACT
KEYWORDS: Spanish Patent Act – expropriation – patent – public interest – Spanish Patent and Trademark Office – licence – Spanish Expropriation Act–exploitation –patent –public domain – compensation – expropriation procedure.
PALABRAS CLAVES: Ley de patentes – expropiación– patentes – interés público – Oficina Española de Patentes y Marcas – licencia – Ley de Expropiación Forzosa –explotación –patente –dominio público – compensación – procedimiento de expropiación.
- Patent expropriation in Spain. 1. Specific Act for ordering the expropriation of a patent or patent application. – 2.2 Expropriation procedure under the Spanish Patent Act in accordance with the Spanish Act of Compulsory Expropriation.
The reality behind a pharmaceutical, technological, mechanical patent or a patented process is, on one hand, huge investments –that in some cases they might not be materialized because the companies- as developers- or the countries -as the final clients- are lack of budget or inversion-, and on the other hand, the uncertainty about the real effectivity or acceptance of the patent in the market. Investment, effectiveness, and acceptance are three of the elements which might determine that a pharmaceutical, technological, mechanical patent, or patented process could be a risky gamble.
Despite these elements, a large number of states had already enacted in their legislation about mechanisms, in which the state is enabled to become the title holder, authorise a third party to develop the patent or patent application, or cause the invention to fall into the public domain in case of extraordinary situations determined by law.
In this paper, the mechanism of expropriating a patent will be analysed. The Spanish Act 24/2015, of 24 July, of Patents (hereinafter «Spanish PA»), provides regulation for expropriating a patent or patent application in Articles 81. This regulation is developed in the Spanish Act of 16 December of 1954, of Compulsory Expropriation.
2.- PATENT EXPROPRIATION IN SPAIN.
Pursuant to Article 81 Spanish PA, any patent application or patent already granted may be expropriated due to the public utility or social interest subject to fair compensation.
2.1.- Specific Act for ordering the expropriation of a patent or patent application.
A specific Act must authorize the expropriation. This Act shall state whether the invention:
- Falls into the public domain, or
- The State is the one who acquires the ownership of the patent or the patent application.
In case the patent falls into the public domain, it may be freely exploited by anyone without the need to apply for licences.
In case the patent is acquired by the State, the State acquires the ownership of the patent and the right to exploit it directly or indirectly -through third parties- and, therefore, to grant licences.
2.2.- Expropriation procedure under the Spanish Patent Act in accordance with the Spanish Act of Compulsory Expropriation.
The proceeding and the compensation shall be in accordance with the general procedure laid down in the Spanish Act of Compulsory Expropriation, of 16 December 1954 (hereinafter “Spanish Expropriation Act”). In case of discrepancy regarding the compensation, the compensation shall be decided by a specific expropriation jury created for this purpose which composition is established in the Spanish Expropriation Act.
The decision of this expropriation jury must necessarily be motivated, reasoning the assessment criteria followed by the same concerning of the provisions of the Spanish Expropriation Act. The decision of the expropriation jury may be appealed before the administrative courts.
To expropriate a patent or a patent application is a rare and exceptional legal figure under the Spanish PA in accordance with the Spanish Expropriation Act that could only be applied, in certain situations like a public utility or social interest subject to fair compensation. This legal mechanism is an exception to the exclusive right, given to the patent holder, of using the patented product or process.
In a nutshell, patent expropriation is the legal mechanism that assures the exploitation and use of a patented product or process, or patent application, for the State, a third party thanks to a licence given by the State, or the free exploitation due to the patent was forced to fall in the public domain in case of public utility or social interest patent. Nevertheless, a situation of patent expropriation licensing has never happened in Spain or in Europe.
- Spanish Act 24/2015, of 24 July, of Patents. Available online on: https://www.boe.es/buscar/pdf /2015/ BOE- A-2015-8328-consolidado.pdf
- Spanish Act of 16 December of 1954, of Compulsory Expropriation. Available online on: boe.es/eli/es/rd/2017/03/31/316/ dof/spa/pdf
Sara Villalta Alarcón
21 de marzo de 2022
Sara Villalta Alarcón
Abogada especializada en Derecho de Propiedad Intelectual, Industrial y Nuevas Tecnologías.
Experiencia en el ámbito de patentes, marcas, competencia desleal, secretos empresariales, derecho de propiedad intelectual y ámbito tecnológico.
Graduada en Derecho y Ciencias Políticas por la Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Máster de Acceso a la Profesión de Abogado y Máster en Derecho de Propiedad Intelectual, Industrial y Nuevas Tecnologías, por la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.
 Spanish Act 24/2015, of 24 July, of Patents. Available online on: https://www.boe.es/buscar/pdf /2015/ BOE- A-2015-8328-consolidado.pdf