IP in business transactions: Greece overview

A guide to intellectual property law in Greece. The IP in business transactions Q&A gives an overview of maintaining an IP portfolio, exploiting an IP portfolio through assignment and licensing, taking security over IPRs, IP and M&A transactions, and the impact of IP on key areas such as competition law, employees and tax.

To compare answers across multiple jurisdictions, visit the IP in business transactions Country Q&A tool.

This Q&A is part of the global guide to IP law. For a full list of jurisdictional Q&As visit www.practicallaw.com/ip-mjg.

Contents

Overview of main IPRs

1. What are the main IPRs in your jurisdiction? How are they protected?

Patents

Patents are granted for a maximum term of 20 years. To enjoy protection a patent must:

  • Be an invention that presents a novelty.

  • Involve an inventive step.

  • Be capable of industrial application.

Patents valid in Greece include national Greek patents (granted by the Greek Industrial Property Organisation), as well as European and International Patents (under the Patent Cooperation Treaty 1970 (PCT)) designating Greece. PCT applications designating Greece are considered as European patent applications intended for protection in Greece.

Trade marks

Trade marks protected in Greece include:

  • Registered international trade marks.

  • EU Community trade marks (CTMs).

  • National trade marks.

  • Unregistered trade marks.

Unregistered marks are only protected if they are regarded as well-known abroad or are distinctive and established locally in transactions.

The Examiners of the Greek Trade Mark Office grant trade mark registrations for national and international applications designating Greece. However, this is only possible on the condition that:

  • No absolute or relative grounds of refusal are raised.

  • No third party oppositions are filed and retained.

The term of international, community and national trade mark registrations is ten years, which can be renewed indefinitely for a further ten years.

Copyright

Copyright protection in Greece is not subject to any formalities and applies to every original work of speech, art or science, on its creation and independent of its form, expression or purpose.

Protected creations include:

  • Written or oral texts.

  • Musical compositions.

  • Theatrical plays.

  • Audiovisual works.

  • Visual arts works.

  • Databases.

  • Computer programs.

The current legislation also recognises six types of related rights:

  • Performers or performing artists.

  • Producers of audio and video media.

  • Broadcasting organisations.

  • Publishers.

  • Database creators.

  • Previously unpublished creations.

Entitlement to and exercise of copyright and related rights are not subject to any formality. In general, proprietary rights last for the whole of the author's life and for 70 years after his death. Moral rights are perpetual and non-assignable.

Utility models

In order for a utility model to enjoy statutory protection in Greece, it must:

  • Be new.

  • Be capable of industrial application.

  • Be a three-dimensional object with a predetermined shape and form.

  • Provide a solution to a technical problem.

The Greek Industrial Property Organisation grants utility model rights in Greece for a maximum term of seven years. As with patents, the rights conferred on the owner of a utility model are acquired and remain in effect only where the relevant fees have been paid to the Greek Industrial Property Organisation.

Design rights

Design rights apply to works of applied arts, that is designs and models that:

  • Are new.

  • Present an individual character.

  • Represent the outward visible appearance of the whole or part of a product resulting from the specific features of the product and its ornamentation.

Registered designs and models are protected through registration in Greece for a maximum term of 25 years and include national Greek, EU Community (Community) or international design rights (see Question 27). If unregistered, design rights can be protected under the Community design regulation (if novel and individualised) or under the current national copyright legislation (if original).

Trade secrets and confidential information

Confidential information includes commercial, business information and technical-industrial know-how. It can be protected under contract, competition and criminal law against unfair practices, involving the disclosure of any confidential information without authorisation by:

  • Employees, workmen or apprentices who during, or subsequently in, the termination of their employment communicate any information that has been confided to them to third parties.

  • Persons who make unauthorised use of, or communicate to third parties, technical models or standards that have been confided to them in the course of trade.

  • Persons who, for the purposes of competition, attempt to induce another to commit an unauthorised disclosure of confidential information.

Other

Other IPRs protected in Greece include:

  • Domain names.

  • Trade and corporate names.

  • Topographies of semi-conductor products.

  • Supplementary protection certificates for pharmaceuticals.

  • Geographical indications.

For further information about the main IPRs, see Patents, trade marks, copyright and designs in Greece: overview.

 

Maintaining IPRs

Search and information facilities

2. What facilities are available to conduct IP searches and obtain IP information on registered IP rights?

Patents

Preliminary patents, trade marks and designs availability searches can be conducted online either through official authorities' websites, (www.obi.gr, www.gge.gr, http://oami.europa.eu, www.epo.org, www.wipo.int) or through unofficial third party websites (usually available under subscription).

Following registration, specialised surveillance services (including registry monitoring and market watch services) are highly recommended to maintain IPRs and monitor possible infringements.

The consultation of specialised IP lawyers is highly recommended for:

  • Thorough availability searches.

  • Professional risk assessments.

  • IPRs maintenance and monitoring.

Trade marks

Preliminary trade marks availability searches can be conducted online either through official authorities' websites (www.gge.gr, http://oami.europa.eu, www.epo.org, www.wipo.int) or through unofficial third party websites (usually available under subscription).

A recent useful online resource is TMview (https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/welcome.html) that allows to search, free of charge, the trade marks of all participating official trade mark offices, including the Greek office. However, with regard to Greek trade marks, the relevant information is not always up to date. The necessity of review of the physical files of the Greek trademark office is therefore required.

Copyright

Not applicable.

Design rights

Preliminary design availability searches can be conducted online either through official authorities' websites, (www.gge.gr, http://oami.europa.eu ( www.practicallaw.com/8-106-7401) , www.epo.org, www.wipo.int, www.obi.gr) or through unofficial third party websites (usually available under subscription).However, not all searched information is available online.

Trade secrets and confidential information

Not applicable.

Other

Not applicable.

 

Maintenance of main IPRs

3. What steps must a business take to maintain the registration and legally protectable status of its main IPRs?

For businesses to maintain the registration and status of their main IPRs they must pay:

  • Annuities (applicable to patents and utility models).

  • Renewal fees (applicable to trade marks, registered designs and domain names).

Patents

If the patent is not implemented within three years, this could result in a grant of a compulsory licence (see Question 19).

Trade marks

Non-genuine use of the trade mark following a five-year period starting from the day after the registration date and for any continuous five-year period could result in the cancellation of the trade mark. Under Greek trade mark law, defendants in opposition proceedings may seek that the opponent proves genuine use of its invoked prior trade mark(s).

Moreover, trade mark owners must ensure that the mark does not become a common denomination in the course of trade for a product or service in which it is registered.

Trade marks should not mislead the public, particularly as to the nature, quality or geographical origin of the goods or services designated.

Copyright

Not applicable.

Design rights

A registered design or a registered model will be declared invalid by means of a court's decision, if:

  • The holder of the registered design or the model is not its designer, its successor or its owner.

  • The protected design or model does not fulfil the requirements set out in the law (new, individual character, representation of the outward visible appearance of the whole or part of a product resulting from the specific features of the product and its ornamentation).

  • The features of the product's appearance are solely dictated by its technical function or if the features of appearance of the product must necessarily be reproduced in their exact form and dimensions in order to permit the product in which the design or model is incorporated or to which it is applied to be mechanically connected to or placed in, around, or against another product so that either product may perform its function.

  • Its exploitation or its publication is contrary to public policy or to accepted principles of morality.

Trade secrets and confidential information

Not applicable.

Other

Not applicable.

 

Monitoring infringement

4. What steps can a business take to avoid infringing another party's IPRs and to monitor whether another party is infringing its IPRs?

Patents

See below, Other.

Other

Trade marks

See below, Other.

Copyright

See below, Other.

Design rights

See below, Other.

Trade secrets and confidential information

Not applicable.

Other

A business can use surveillance services (including registry monitoring and market watch services (see Question 2). This is highly recommended for businesses wishing either to protect their IPRs from infringement or to avoid committing a breach of third party IPRs.

Internal guidelines setting clear policies for important IPR issues (for example, protection, exploitation, dissemination and awareness of IPRs) are highly recommended. These have important implications for ongoing or future projects.

It may be worthwhile for businesses looking to stop potential imports of counterfeit goods from non-EU countries to file an intervention application with the Greek customs to withhold or seize products that are suspected of being counterfeits.

 

Exploiting IPRs

5. What are the main steps in conducting an IP audit in your jurisdiction to determine the content of an IP portfolio?

Patents

See below, Other.

Trade marks

See below, Other.

Copyright

See below, Other.

Design rights

See below, Other.

Trade secrets and confidential information

Not applicable.

Other

An IP audit consists of a systematic review of the IP assets owned, used or acquired by a business. The purposes are to uncover under-utilised IP assets, to identify any threats to a company's bottom line, and to enable business planners to devise informed strategies that will maintain and improve the company's market position. At the very least, an IP audit should identify what IP assets are owned by a business and how important those are to the firm.

The first step in the audit process is to identify the readily identifiable IPRs. Assets falling into this category will include:

  • Registered trade marks.

  • Copyrights.

  • Designs.

  • Patents.

  • Any licences to third parties.

  • Any licences from third parties, including cross-licences.

  • In-house work manuals.

  • Databases.

  • Franchise agreements.

  • Publications.

  • Know-how.

Once identified, the IPRs are then examined to determine:

  • By whom they are owned.

  • Whether they remain registered.

  • Whether they are being effectively used.

  • Whether they remain enforceable or may give rise to litigation.

IPRs are also given an importance rating by looking at factors such as whether they are linked to core technologies, the life expectancy of the underlying IP in the technology and the potential or actual exclusivity of the technology.

The second step is to identify external or market influences. These will include:

  • The company brand.

  • Product brands.

  • Company and product packaging.

  • Goodwill in the IPRs.

  • Product certification.

  • Export certifications.

  • Regulatory approvals.

  • Distribution and raw material networks.

  • Client lists.

  • Marketing and advertising programmes.

Finally, the valuation of the IPRs is highly recommended. Several IP valuation methods can be used to establish the value of an IP asset. Although IP valuation in Greece is not very common, the introduction of IP valuation standards (ISO 10668) could contribute to developments in the relevant field.

 

Assignment

Scope of assignment

6. On what basis can the main IPRs be assigned?

Generally, IPRs can be freely assigned and transferred, as an object of property, in whole or in part.

Patents

While European patent applications can be transferred as a whole, granted European patents can only be transferred partially, that is per each designated state.

Trade marks

IPRs presenting a unitary character (for example, national trade marks or CTMs) can only be transferred for the whole of the territory they cover.

A transfer of trade mark rights does not necessarily require a transfer of goodwill. However, this is advisable to avoid deceiving consumers (for example, where the transferee uses the trade mark with a different goodwill and different product).

Copyright

Future rights which are sufficiently individualised can also be assigned where the proprietary features of a future work are not directly assigned but rather constitute the subject-matter of a (unilateral) undertaking to assign in the future. However, any transfer of copyrighted work concerns only the proprietary rights related to it. Any moral rights remain attached to its author and cannot be assigned, although their exercise can be significantly curtailed contractually.

Design rights

Each co-owner of a design or model is entitled to transfer freely his share and supervise the protection of the common registered design or model.

The holder of a design or model can, if a third party has filed an application for the registration of a design or model that relates to his design or model or substantial elements of it without his consent, demand by action against the third party the recognition on his behalf of the rights conferred by the application or, if certificate for registration has been issued, its transfer. The co-owner of a registered design or model can demand the recognition of his right.

The right to the registration of a design or model and the registered design or model can be transferred on written agreement or inherited. The transfer is effected on registration of the agreement or of the certificate of inheritance in the Design and Model Register and will be published in the respective national industrial property bulletin (EDBI).

Trade secrets and confidential information

Not applicable.

Other

Not applicable.

 

Formalities for assignment

7. What formalities are required to assign each of the main IPRs?

Patents

Patents (including patent applications), utility models, designs, as well as copyrighted works can only be assigned following a written agreement.

For patents, utility models and designs, assignment is completed on registration of the assignment agreement in the Patents Register.

Trade marks

Trade marks can be assigned following a written agreement. It is strongly recommended to record the transfer agreement with the Greek Trade Mark Office to render it enforceable against third parties.

Community trade mark transfer agreements must also be concluded in writing and can only be enforced if recorded with the Community registry.

Copyright

Copyrighted works can only be assigned following a written agreement. However, only the author may invoke the validity of a non-written assignment.

Design rights

Design rights can only be assigned following a written agreement.

Trade secrets and confidential information

It is advisable to assign confidential information in a written agreement.

Other

Not applicable.

 

Main terms for assignments

8. What main terms should be included in an assignment of IPRs?

The most common terms found in an IPR assignment agreement include (but are not limited to):

  • Clauses relating to the identification of IPRs assigned, for example:

    • trade marks;

    • patents;

    • copyright;

    • designs; and

    • other intangible assets.

  • Purchase price due.

  • Date of effect of the assignment.

  • Assistance in transfer (technical support, guidance, training, and so on).

  • Assurances concerning liability and indemnification issues.

  • Remedies for breach of contract.

  • Governing law and jurisdiction.

In addition to any other rights and remedies available, parties can also agree a dispute resolution clause.

 

Licensing

Scope of licensing

9. On what basis can the main IPRs be licensed?

Generally, all IPRs (including applications) can be freely licensed exclusively or non-exclusively, for the whole or a part of Greece, following a written agreement.

Sub-licences are also possible under the same conditions if permitted by the main licence agreement. Licences of community rights that are limited to some EU countries are theoretically possible. However, in view of the rules concerning exhaustion of rights, it is not possible to forbid a licensee to sell outside of his licensed territory.

Patents

Registration of the licence agreement only has evidential value for patents, and is not strictly necessary (see Question 10). Non-contractual patent licences can be granted, under certain circumstances, without prior consent of the patentee, for non-exploited patents. For patents with more than one registered owner, the grant of the licence requires the consent of all the owners. Unless otherwise agreed, the licence agreement is considered to be non-exclusive, non-transferable and non-inheritable.

Trade marks

With regard to trade marks, licences can be:

  • Exclusive or non-exclusive.

  • For part or for the totality of the designated products and/or services.

  • For the whole or a part of Greece.

Licences are recorded at the Greek Trade Mark Office (by means of an application by the licensor or the licensee and under the formalities required by the relevant trade mark legal provisions). Any amendments or changes regarding licences are also recorded at the Greek Trade Mark Office.

Copyright

A copyright holder can grant exclusive and non-exclusive licences for all or a single means of commercial copyright exploitation.

Design rights

Licence agreements of utility models and industrial designs are registered in the Designs and Utility Models Register and published in the Industrial Property Official Gazette.

Trade secrets and confidential information

Not applicable.

Other

Not applicable.

 

Formalities for licensing

10. What are the formalities to license each of the main IPRs?

Patents

Registration of the licence agreement in the Patents Register has only evidential value for patents, and is not strictly necessary.

Trade marks

Licences are recorded at the Greek Trade Mark Office (by means of an application by the licensor or the licensee and under the formalities required by the relevant trade mark legal provisions). Any amendments or changes regarding licences are also recorded at the Greek Trade Mark Office.

Copyright

Registration of the licence agreement is not required.

Design rights

Licence agreements of utility models and industrial designs are registered in the Designs and Utility Models Register and published in the Industrial Property Official Gazette.

Trade secrets and confidential information

There is no relevant formality regarding confidential information.

Other

Not applicable.

 

Main terms for licences

11. What main terms should be included in an IP licence?

The most common terms found in an IPR licence agreement include (but are not limited to):

  • Clauses relating to the identification of IPRs licensed, for example:

    • trade marks;

    • patents;

    • copyright;

    • designs; and

    • other intangible assets.

  • Warranties regarding the validity of the licensed rights.

  • Scope of the licence.

  • Eventual sub-licensing rights.

  • Enforcement rights.

  • Price due.

  • Date of effect of the assignment.

  • Term of the agreement and termination clause.

  • Eventual remedies in case of breach of contract.

  • Governing law and jurisdiction.

In addition to any other rights and remedies available, parties can also agree a dispute resolution clause such as a clause submitting disputes to arbitration.

 

Taking security

12. What are the key issues in taking security over the main IPRs?

Security over IPRs is uncommon in Greece, as:

  • There are difficulties in accurately valuing IPRs.

  • The value of a business's IPRs does not generally appear in its balance sheet or financial records.

The IPRs most commonly secured are trade marks.

 
13. What are the main security interests taken over IPRs?

The main security instruments taken over IPRs are pledges and fiduciary assignments.

Pledges

Pledges over intangible assets (including IPRs) are governed by, among others (in particular Law No. 2844/2000) Articles 1211 and 1214 of the Greek Civil Code. Pledges require a:

  • Written agreement before a notary public.

  • Registration of the relevant agreement to a separate public registry.

According to Law No. 2844/2000, relevant public registries must be set up by virtue of a Presidential Decree. Until the relevant Presidential Decree is issued, the competent authority for the registration is usually the Land Registry. However, especially for IPRs, and because the relevant Presidential Decree has not yet been issued, it is currently debated whether the Land Registry should also cover IPRs; to date (to the best of the authors' knowledge), no pledge over IPRs has been registered with the Land Registry.

Fiduciary assignments

Fiduciary assignments do not have the difficulties of the pledge registry (see above, Pledges) Fiduciary assignments are concluded under the legal requirements and restrictions applicable to the relevant type of IPR transferred. This applies mostly to Copyright Collection Societies with regard to management of artists' works.

Patents

The provisions of the Greek Civil Code (see above, Pledges) and also the Law No. 2844/2000 can apply. A written agreement is required for pledges, which, according to current practice, must be registered with the Hellenic Industrial Property Organisation.

Trade marks

Trade mark law has specific provisions for enforcement of pledges. Article 133 of Law No. 4072/2012 allows the confiscation and liquidation of trade marks. The judgment allowing the enforcement must be served on the Trade Mark Registrar and subsequently recorded. However it is doubtful whether trade marks consisting of the name of the owner can be the subject to this confiscation and liquidation procedure.

Copyright

The provisions of the Greek Civil Code (see above, Pledges) and also Law No. 2844/2000 can apply.

Design rights

The provisions of Greek Civil Code (see above, Pledges) and also Law No. 2844/2000 can apply. For pledges a written agreement is required, which, according to current practice, must be registered with the Hellenic Industrial Property Organisation.

 

M&A

Due diligence

14. What IPR-related due diligence is commonly carried out in both a share sale or merger and an asset sale?

Share sale or merger

The main issues of IP-related due diligence in share and asset sales are:

  • Identification of the IPRs.

  • Confirmation of ownership or licences (to or from third parties) of the IPRs.

  • Examination of the terms of licences (to or from third parties) of the IPRs.

  • Assessment of the status of IPRs, namely examination of compliance with IPR maintenance rules and procedure.

  • Assessment of the strength of the IPRs, including review of possible legal actions contesting their validity, or the validity of the licences, and confirmation of use.

  • Identification of other pending disputes, such as enforcement or infringement proceedings initiated by or against the business.

  • Royalty payments.

  • Reference of the value of the relevant IPRs in the businesses balance-sheet or financial records.

Asset sale

See above, Share sale.

 

Warranties/indemnities

15. What IPR-related warranties and/or indemnities are commonly given by the seller to the buyer in both a share sale or merger and an asset sale?

Share sale or merger

The IP-related warranties provided in both share and asset sales are generally similar. The most common include warranties that:

  • The seller is the lawful owner of the relevant IPRs.

  • The seller is the lawful licensee of the relevant IPRs.

  • The seller's IPRs' licences to third parties are valid and enforceable and other third parties do not have any rights to them (or the seller has the power to assign any existing rights in third party IPRs).

  • The relevant IPRs, either owned or licensed from third parties, are valid.

  • There is full disclosure of IPRs.

  • There is full disclosure of pending disputes (if any).

  • The seller will indemnify the buyer for breach of the above representations.

Asset sale

See above, Share sale.

 

Transfer of IPRs

16. How are the main IPRs transferred in both a share sale or merger and an asset sale?

Share sale or merger

Share sales do not include the separate transfer of IPRs, as there is no transfer of the business, only a change of control.

Asset sale

In asset sales, the relevant IPRs are assigned individually. In practice however, this means that the asset sale agreement will list the details of each of the IPRs assigned. Additionally, where registration of the transfer is necessary (trade marks, patents, design rights) it should be effected.

As far as copyright is concerned, only the proprietary rights are transferrable; whereas the moral rights can only be the subject of a licence.

For the assignment of licences, care must be taken with the relevant clauses of the licence agreements in relation to change of control and assignment of the IPRs licensed.

 

Joint ventures

17. Is it common for companies to set up joint ventures in your jurisdiction to develop projects that heavily involve IPRs?

It is common for companies to set up joint ventures in Greece. The main IP-related provisions to be included in the relevant agreement are:

  • A full list of each of the parties' relevant IPRs.

  • Cross-licensing or cross-assignment clauses.

  • Agreement on the ownership of IPRs, which will be created within the context of the joint venture.

  • Liability for infringement of third parties' rights, with regard to the:

    • IPRs created, within the context of the joint venture; and

    • IPRs cross-licensed.

  • Burden of enforcement against infringement with regard to the:

    • IPRs created, within the context of the joint venture; and

    • IPRs cross-licensed.

  • Dispute resolution clause.

  • Provisions related to the ownership of IPRs following termination of the joint venture. Such provisions may provide for ownership of the IPRs by one party with simultaneous licensing of this to the other party or buy-out schemes.

 

Competition law

Main provisions and common issues

18. What are the main provisions of your national competition law that can affect the exploitation of the main IPRs?

The main provisions of Greek competition law that can affect the exploitation of IPRs are:

  • Article 1 of Law No. 3959/2011, which mirrors Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). It prohibits all agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings and concerted practices which may affect trade between member states and which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition.

  • Article 2 of Law No. 3959/2011, which mirrors Article 102 of the TFEU. It prohibits an undertaking's abuse of a dominant position.

Competition law issues most commonly arise with regard to patents and copyright.

 
19. What are the most common national competition law issues that arise in the exploitation of the main IPRs?

Distortion of competition

Licences of IPRs (particularly exclusive agreements), including cross-licensing and IPRs pooling (most notably in relation to patents) may breach Article 1 of Law No. 3959/2011. The prohibited anti-competitive effects of such agreements can include:

  • Price fixing.

  • Market partitioning.

  • Barriers to entry.

  • Downstream market foreclosure.

  • R&D restrictions imposed on the licensee.

Abuse of dominant position

The most common example of abuse of dominance is the refusal to license IPRs, as a specific case of refusal to supply.

Greek patent law (Article 13, Law No. 1733/1987) allows for the compulsory (non-contractual) licensing of a patent, following petition before the courts, provided that:

  • A period of three years has elapsed since the grant of the patent or a period of four years has elapsed since the filing date of the patent application.

  • The relevant invention has not been exploited in Greece or, where it has the production of the products is insufficient to cover local demand.

  • The third party is in a position to exploit productively the invention covered by the patent.

  • The third party notified the patentee, one month prior to the initiation of the judicial proceedings, regarding its intention to request a non-contractual licence.

It is generally argued that compulsory licensing would also apply to copyright, particularly in the software and media sectors, as well as to trade marks and designs.

 

Exclusions/exemptions

20. What exclusions or exemptions are available for national competition law issues involving the exploitation of the main IPRs?

Greek law provides for the ability to stop parallel imports from extra-EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries of goods protected by IPRs in Greece.

The following EU Block Exemption Regulations are relevant:

  • Regulation (EC) 772/2004 on the application of Article 101(3) of the TFEU (formerly Article 81(3) of the EC Treaty) to categories of technology transfer agreements.

  • Regulation (EU) 330/2010 on the application of Article 101(3) of the TFEU to categories of vertical agreements and concerted practices.

  • Regulation (EU) 1217/2010 on the application of Article 101(3) of the TFEU to categories of research and development agreements.

 

Advertising

21. To what extent do advertising laws impact on the use of third party trade marks?

The main regulatory instruments on advertising are:

  • Law No. 2251/1994.

  • The Greek Advertising Communication Code, issued by the Greek Communication Review Board, the advertising industry's self-regulatory authority and also a member of the European Advertising Standards Alliance.

With regard to trade marks, Law No. 2251/1994 prohibits:

  • Use in advertising of third parties' trade marks if it is likely to mislead or confuse consumers as to the origin or qualitative characteristics of products involved.

  • Comparative advertising, where use of a third party's trade mark takes place, if such advertising:

    • does not objectively compare substantive characteristics of the products involved;

    • allows the product advertised to gain unlawful benefit from the reputation of the third party's trade mark;

    • presents products as lookalikes or counterfeits of products bearing registered trade marks; and

    • depreciates products bearing the third party's trade mark.

The principles of Law No. 2151/1994 are generally enshrined in the Greek Advertising Communication Code. This prohibits:

  • Untruthful or misleading advertising.

  • Advertising which takes unlawful advantage of the reputation of third party's trade marks.

The Communication Review Board decide disputes arising in connection with the code. The decisions are generally respected by the advertising industry despite not being legally binding.

 

Employees and consultants

22. Who owns each of the main IPRs created by an employee in the course of his employment? Must compensation be paid in relation to employee IPRs? What main steps can an employer take to ensure it owns each of the main IPRs?

Ownership

In the absence of any specific agreement, proprietary rights over copyright created in the course of an employee's contract are automatically assigned to the employer. Moral rights remain with the employee. Generally for patents the same rules apply as for copyright with some exceptions (see below, Copyright).

Compensation

The employment agreement will normally include language excluding any claim for additional compensation of the employee (other than regular salary) for IP work produced in the framework of his duties.

Main steps

It is advisable that the employment agreement regulates IPRs on work produced by the employee in the framework of the agreement.

Copyright

As a general rule, the employee is the initial beneficiary of both proprietary and moral rights. However, in the absence of any specific agreement, proprietary rights over copyright created in the course of an employee's contract are automatically assigned to the employer. Moral rights remain with the employee. Automatic assignment is not deemed to cover forms of exploitation which were unknown at the date of the employment contract.

Patents

Generally, the same rules apply as for copyright (see above, Copyright). However, specific rules apply where the invention is:

  • The object of an R&D employment contract, in which case the invention belongs exclusively to the employer. The employee has the right to request additional reasonable recompense if the invention is particularly profitable for the employer.

  • Conceived during an employment contract with means and information provided by the employer. In this situation, 40% of the invention belongs to the employer and 60% to the employee. The employer is entitled to exploit the invention achieved by priority against compensation to the inventor, proportional to the economic value of the invention and the profits it brings to the employer.

Any agreement which restricts the employees' right above is considered null.

 
23. Who owns each of the main IPRs created by an external consultant? What main steps can a business take to ensure it owns each of the main IPRs?

Ownership

IPRs created by external consultants belong to them unless a specific agreement is in place providing otherwise.

Main steps

The business can ensure that it owns the IPRs entering into an agreement by virtue of which IPRs are assigned/transferred by the external consultant to the contractor. However, for copyright, moral rights will remain inalienable. However, in practice contracts significantly restrict moral rights.

 

Tax

24. What are the main taxes payable by a licensor on the licensing of the main IPRs?

Article 5 paragraph 1 (ic) of Law No. 4172/2013 (New Income Tax Code) states that income deriving from royalties that are paid by a Greek tax resident or by a foreign tax resident with a permanent establishment in Greece is considered to be income arising in Greece and is therefore taxable in Greece.

Article 38 paragraph 1 of Law No. 4172/2013 provides the definition of royalties and refers to the licensing of IPRs. According to Article 62 paragraph 1 of Law No. 4172/2013, royalty fees paid to a natural person who is a Greek tax resident are subject to a 20% withholding tax. Additionally, under Article 40 of Law No. 4172/2013 in conjunction with Article 14 of the Circular 1042/2015 issued by the General Secretariat of Public Revenue, income arising from royalties is also taxable at the rate of 20%.

According to the provisions of Article 62 paragraph 5 of Law No. 4172/2013, royalty fees paid to either a legal person who is a Greek tax resident or a legal person with a permanent establishment in Greece are not subject to a final withholding tax.

However, the income that arises from the licensing of the IPRs is subject to progressive income tax rates. The income tax rate for legal persons in Greece is currently 29% (Article 1 paragraph 4, Law No. 4334/2015).

These rules will apply unless an applicable international double taxation treaty provides otherwise.

 
25. What are the main taxes payable by a seller on the sale of the main IPRs?

Article 38 paragraph 1 of Law No. 4172/2013 (New Income Tax Code) includes a definition for royalties, but it refers only to licensing of IPRs and not to selling or assignment of IPRs. Consequently, Article 38 and Article 62 of Law No. 4172/2013 should not apply to such disposal of the IPRs (this is also clarified and confirmed by Circular 1042/2015 issued by the General Secretariat of Public Revenue).

Income arising from the selling or the assignment of IPRs is considered as income arising from trade activities and therefore is subject to progressive income tax rates. The income tax rate for natural persons in Greece is currently (Article 29 paragraph 1, Law No. 4172/2013):

  • 26% for income up to EUR50,000.

  • 33% for income over EUR50,000.

In addition, the income tax rate for legal persons in Greece is currently 29% (Article 1 paragraph 4, Law No. 4334/2015).

 

Cross-border issues

26. What international IP treaties is your jurisdiction party to?

Greece is party to all major international IP treaties, including the following:

  • WIPO Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization 1967.

  • Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (Paris Convention).

  • WIPO Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works 1971 (Berne Convention).

  • Patent Cooperation Treaty 1970 (PCT).

  • WIPO Patent Law Treaty 2000 (PLT).

  • Madrid Protocol (International Registration of Marks).

  • Hague Agreement (International Deposit of Industrial Designs).

  • WIPO Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks 1957.

  • WIPO Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations 1961.

  • Strasbourg Agreement Concerning the International Patent Classification 1971.

  • Locarno Agreement (International Classification for Industrial Designs).

  • Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of their Phonograms 1971.

  • Brussels Convention (Distribution of Programme-Carrying Signals Transmitted by Satellite).

  • Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Microorganisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedure 1977.

  • Nairobi Treaty on the Protection of the Olympic Symbol.

Greece is also a member of the:

  • Black Sea Economic Cooperation Pact (BSEC).

  • European Patent Organisation (EPO).

  • Uniform Commercial Code (UCC).

  • World Trade Organization (WTO).

Greece is also signatory to the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

A detailed list of treaties can be found at www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/national.jsp.

 
27. Are foreign IPRs recognised in your jurisdiction?

Patents

The general principle of territoriality dictates that foreign IPRs are not recognised in Greece. However, international (under the PCT) and European (under the European Patent Convention) patents designating Greece or the EU are valid in Greece.

Trade marks

The general principle of territoriality dictates that foreign IPRs are not recognised in Greece. Exempted from this principle are foreign well-known trade marks or foreign registered trade marks (in use abroad) that can be relied on to oppose trade mark applications filed with the Greek Trade Mark Office. Community Trade Marks and International (under the Madrid Protocol) Trade Marks designating Greece or the EU are valid in Greece.

Copyright

With regard to copyright, Greece is a party of the Berne Convention, providing for copyright protection on an international scale. As a result, foreign copyrighted works enjoy the same rights and privileges as national copyrighted works.

Design rights

The general principle of territoriality dictates that foreign IPRs are not recognised in Greece. However, community designs and international (under the Hague Agreement) trade marks designating Greece or the EU are valid in Greece (see above, Trade marks).

 

Reform

28. Are there any proposals for reform?

There are currently no proposals for reform.

 

Online resources

Hellenic Industrial Property Organisation

W www.obi.gr

Description. Official website of the Hellenic Industrial Property Organisation, with exclusive competence in Greece for the registration of inventions and industrial designs and models as well as for matters relating to technological information and technology transfer. The website includes translation of respective legislative texts, for guidance only.

General Directorate for Commerce (Γενική Γραμματεία Εμπορίου)

W www.gge.gov.gr

Description. Official website of the General Directorate for Commerce, part of the Ministry of Development and Competitiveness, part of which is the Greek Trade Mark Office, with exclusive competency regarding trade marks. (Website available in Greek.)

Hellenic Copyright Organisation

W www.opi.gr

Description. The Hellenic Copyright Organisation protects the rights of authors and rights holders, and implements Greek copyright laws and international conventions. It also supervises collecting societies and carries out legal preparatory work on matters relating to copyright and related rights.



Contributor profiles

George Ballas

Ballas, Pelecanos & Associates LPC

T +30 210 36 25 943 (ext: 21)
F +30 210 36 47 925
E george.ballas@balpel.gr
W www.ballas-pelecanos.com

Professional qualifications. Greece, Athens Bar Association, 1974

Areas of practice. IP (including industrial property).

Recent transactions

  • Teva Pharma v Amgen.
  • Pharmaten SA v Merck, Sharp & Dome Corp.
  • Weyth v Dexcel Pharma.
  • Daimler-Chrysler v China Motors Industry Group.

Languages. Greek, English, French, Italian

George Moukas

Ballas, Pelecanos & Associates LPC

T +30 210 36 25 943 (ext: 34)
F +30 210 36 47 925
E george.moukas@balpel.gr
W www.ballas-pelecanos.com

Professional qualifications. Greece, Athens Bar Association, 1992

Areas of practice. IP (including industrial property).

Recent transactions

  • Pharmathen SA v Merck, Sharp & Dome Corp.
  • Pharmaservice SA v Astra Zeneca AS.
  • Daimler-Chrysler v China Motors Industry Group.

Languages. Greek, English, French, Italian

Nicholas Gregoriades

Ballas, Pelecanos & Associates LPC

T +30 210 36 25 943 (ext: 31)
F +30 210 36 47 925
E nicholas.gregoriades@balpel.gr
W www.ballas-pelecanos.com

Professional qualifications. Greece, Athens Bar Association, 2001

Areas of practice. IP (including industrial property).

Recent transactions

  • Lockheed Martin Corporation v Heletel Ltd.
  • Glaxo Group (Maxinutrition) v Sophia Gholam.
  • Beiersdorf A.G. v NOTOS COM (Nivea – leocrema dispute).

Languages. Greek, English

Maria Spanos

Ballas, Pelecanos & Associates LPC

T +30 210 36 25 943 (ext: 34)
F +30 210 36 47 925
E maria.spanos@balpel.gr
W www.ballas-pelecanos.com

Professional qualifications. Greece, Athens Bar Association, 2005; Spain, Barcelona Bar Association, 2009

Areas of practice. IP (including industrial property).

Recent transactions

  • Pharmaten v Hoffman La Roche.
  • Teva Pharma v Amgen.
  • Glaxo Group (Maxinutrition) v Sophia Gholam.

Languages. Greek, English, French, Spanish (including Catalan)

Theodore Konstantakopoulos

Ballas, Pelecanos & Associates LPC

T +30 210 36 25 943 (ext: 47)
F +30 210 36 47 925
E theodore.konstantakopoulos@balpel.gr
W www.ballas-pelecanos.com

Professional qualifications. Greece, Athens Bar Association, 2007

Areas of practice. IP (including industrial property).

Recent transactions

  • Merck, Sharp & Dome Corp v Teva Hellas SA.
  • Pharmathen SA v Pharmakern Portugal LDA.

Languages. Greek, English, German

Alice Zoukas

Ballas, Pelecanos & Associates LPC

T +30 210 36 25 943 (ext: 58)
F +30 210 36 47 925
E alice.zoukas@balpel.gr
W www.ballas-pelecanos.com

Professional qualifications. Greece, Athens Bar Association, 2010; Cyprus Bar Association, 2009

Areas of practice. Tax.

Recent transactions. Teva Pharma v Amgen.

Languages. Greek, English, German


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