Greece: Intellectual Property

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This country-specific Q&A provides an overview to intellectual property law in Greece.

It will cover intellectual property rights, licensing, enforcement, establishing infringement or liability, and challenges to intellectual property.

This Q&A is part of the global guide to Intellectual Property. For a full list of jurisdictional Q&As visit http://www.inhouselawyer.co.uk/index.php/practice-areas/intellectual-property/

  1. What different types of intellectual property rights exist in this jurisdiction to protect?

    (a) Inventions (e.g. patents, supplementary protection certificates, rights in confidential information and/or know-how);

    Inventions are primarily protected via patents and, where applicable, supplementary protection certificates. Protection of inventions may also be attained via registration of utility models, as well as via (unregistered) rights in confidential information, trade secrets and know-how. Unfair competition law may also serve to protect inventions, in addition to or regardless of, specific rights registration.

    (b) Brands (e.g. trade marks, cause of action in passing off, rights to prevent unfair competition, association marks, certification marks, hallmarks, designations of origin, geographical indications, traditional speciality guarantees);

    Brands are primarily protected via trade mark registration (national, EU, international) and unfair competition law (unregistered signs and/or designs).

    (c) Other creations, technology and proprietary interests (e.g. copyright, design rights, semiconductor topography rights, plant varieties, database rights, rights in confidential information and/or know-how).

    Creative works are protected by copyright and/or registered design rights. Databases can be protected either by copyright or by the sui-generis proprietary database right.

    There is also specific legislation protecting semiconductor topography rights and plant varieties. However, in the absence of the implementing Decree prescribed by the Greek plant varieties law, no national plant varieties grants are available.

    Unfair competition law may also apply to protect the above IP rights.

  2. What is the duration of each of these intellectual property rights? What procedures exist to extend the life of registered rights in appropriate circumstances?

    • Patent rights remain valid for a total period of 20 years, following the filing of the patent application, provided they are renewed annually. In the case of pharmaceutical patents, supplementary protection certificates extending protection of the product for 5 years are available.
    • Utility models are valid for 7 years, following the filing of the utility model (or patent in case of conversion) application, provided they are renewed annually.
    • Semiconductor topography rights are valid for a non-renewable period of 10 years.
    • Plant varieties are valid for 15 years, or, in the case of varieties of vine and fruit tree and decorative tree species, for 18 years, as from the date of grant. However, in the absence of the implementing Decree prescribed by the Greek plant varieties law, no national plant varieties grants are available.
    • Registered design rights remain valid for a total period of 25 years, following the filing of the patent application, provided they are renewed every 5 years.
    • Trade mark rights remain valid perpetually, following the filing of the trade mark application, provided they are renewed every 10 years.
    • Copyright remains valid for a period of 70 years after the year of death of the author (creator) of the work. For copyright where other national law applies, the provisions of such law are respected, if the State of governing law is party to the Berne Convention or on the principle of reciprocity.
    • Database rights subsist for 15 years after the database is compiled.
    • Unregistered marks and unregistered designs may be protected, as long as they remain in use.
  3. Who is the first owner of each of these intellectual property rights and is this different for rights created in the course of employment or under a commission?

    In the case of patents, utility models and registered design rights, inventions created by an employee, in the course of an employment contract, belong to the employee who is, of course, free to assign its rights via an assignment contract. However, when the invention is the object of an R&D employment contract, the employer is the initial owner vest with full rights. If the invention is created during an employment contract with means, resources and information provided by the employer (dependent invention), 40% of the patent rights belong to the employer and 60% to the employee. The employer has a priority right to exploit the invention against compensation to the employee - inventor, which should be proportional to the economic value of the invention and the profits it brings to the employer.

    • In the case of semiconductor topography rights, the employer is the first owner of the rights, both in case of work made for hire and employee contract.
    • For copyright, as a general rule, the employee is the initial owner of both proprietary and moral rights but proprietary rights over copyright created in the course of an employment contract are automatically assigned to the employer, unless otherwise agreed. Moral rights subsist with the employee, although in practice such rights will be extremely limited. Automatic assignment will not extend to forms of exploitation which were unknown at the time of creation of the relevant work.

    For work made for hire, the contractor will also be the initial owner, but its rights in and to the work shall pass on to the client, as a matter of contractual assignment. The contractor will still retain moral rights, although in practice such rights will be extremely limited.

  4. Which of the intellectual property rights described in questions 1-3 are registered?

    Patents, SPCs, utility models, registered designs, trade marks, semiconductor topography rights, and plant varieties.

  5. Who can apply for registration of these intellectual property rights and, briefly, what is the procedure for registration?

    Any natural or legal person may file for registration of the IP rights in section A; such person will be the creator, assignee or beneficiary of the right. The registration procedure varies depending on the type of right. In brief:

    • Patents: There is no substantive examination of patents application in Greece. An Examiner reviews the application only on formalities and, in case of deficiencies, these must be remedied within 4 months as from the application. As a next stage, the Examiner issues, at the applicant’s choice, either a Search Report or a Reasoned Search Report, which the applicant may comment within 3 months. After such time, or if the applicant waives its right to comment, the patent is granted. The patent, together with the Search Report is published 18 months as from the application.
    • Utility models: An Examiner reviews the application only on formalities and, in case of deficiencies, these must be remedied within 4 months as from the application. After such time, the utility model is granted.
    • Semi-conductor topographies: An Examiner reviews the application only on formalities and, in case of deficiencies, these must be remedied within 4 months as from the application. After such time, the title is granted.
    • Registered designs: An Examiner reviews the application only on formalities and, in case of deficiencies, these must be remedied within 4 months as from the application. After such time, the registered design is granted.
    • Plant varieties: An expert committee reviews the application and delivers an opinion to the Minister of Agriculture, who grants the title. However, as already noted, in the absence of the implementing Decree prescribed by the Greek plant varieties law, no national plant varieties grants are available.
    • Trade marks: An Examiner reviews the application for absolute and relative grounds of refusal. If the application is accepted, it is advertised on the Greek TM Office's web site, triggering a 3-month opposition deadline. If no opposition is filed or after the final rejection of such opposition, the trade mark is registered.
    • Copyright: There is no registration procedure for copyright.
  6. How long does the registration procedure usually take?

    A smooth application from filing to registration will usually take:

    • Patents: 9 - 14 months.
    • Utility models: 5 - 6 months
    • Registered designs: 5 -6 months
    • Semiconductor topographies: 5 months
    • Trade marks: 4 - 6 months
  7. Do third parties have the right to take part in or comment on the registration process?

    As noted above in Q.5, third parties may oppose the registration of a trade mark, both on absolute and on relative grounds.

    No opposition or similar procedure is provided for the other registered IP rights in section A.

    Purely theoretically, the Greek Code of Procedure of Administrative Authorities allows any party establishing legitimate interest to intervene in ongoing administrative processes in defense of its rights. In practice, however, this rarely applies to IP rights grant procedures.

    Third parties may challenge registered IP rights post-grant, under requirements which vary depending on the type of right (see below Section G).

  8. What (if any) steps can the applicant take if registration is refused?

    • Patents, SPCs, utility models, semi-conductor topographies, and registered designs: The Greek Patent Office only conducts a formalities check, so refusals are very rare and so are appeals. These are filed in the form of a nullity application before the before the Council of State (the Supreme Administrative Court), which acts as a first and final instance court.
    • Trade marks: The applicant may file a recourse action before the Trademarks Administrative Committee (TAC), a quasi judicial body of the Greek TM Office. Further appeals are available before the First Instance and Appellate Administrative Courts, as well as before the Council of State (the Supreme Administrative Court, but only on points of law).
  9. What are the current application and renewal fees for each of these intellectual property rights?

    Patents

    Filing fee 50,00
    Claims fee for 11th and each subsequent patent claim 30,00 per claim
    Search Report Fee 300,00
    Reasoned Search Report 640,00
    Patent grant fees 150,00
    Fee for registering assignments, licences, status changes 200,00
    Annuities
    First year of protection 0
    Second 0
    Third 20,00
    Fourth 50,00
    Fifth 80,00
    Sixth 90,00
    Seventh 100,00
    Eighth 115,00
    Nineth 140,00
    Tenth 190,00
    Eleventh 240,00
    Twelfth 300,00
    Thirteen 400,00
    Fourteen 500,00
    Fifteen 600,00
    Sixteen 700,00
    Seventeen 800,00
    Eighteen 900,00
    Nineteen 1000,00
    Twentieth 1100,00

    Utility models

    Filing fee 50,00
    Claims fee for the 11th and each subsequent claim 30,00 per claim
    Utility Model Certificate grant fee 100,00
    Fee for registering assignments, licences, status changes 200,00
    Annuities
    First year of protection 0
    Second 0
    Third 20,00
    Fourth 50,00
    Fifth 80,00
    Sixth 90,00
    Seventh 100,00

    Semi-conductor topographies: 231 EUR

    Registered designs

    Filing fee 100,00
    Supplementary fee for multiple designs (up to 50) 10,00
    - each additional design
    Publication fee 30,00
    Supplementary publication fee for multiple designs (up to 50) 10,00
    - each additional design)
    Deferred publication fee 30,00
    Supplementary deferred publication fee for multiple designs (up to 50) 10,00
    - each additional design
    Fee for registering assignments, licences, status changes 100,00
    First 5-year period protection fee -
    Renewal fee for second 5-year period 100,00
    Renewal fee for third 5-year period 150,00
    Renewal fee for fourth 5-year period 200,00
    Renewal fee for fifth 5-year period 250,00

    Trade marks

    Filing fee 110,00
    Filing fee - each additional class (up to 10) 20,00 per class

    Renewal fee 90,00
    Renewal fee - each additional class (up to 10) 20,00 per class
    Fee for registering assignments and licences 90,00
    Fee for registering status changes of name, address or legal form 50,00
    Limitation of goods / services 20,00
    First 5-year period protection fee -
    Renewal fee for second 5-year period 100,00
    Renewal fee for third 5-year period 150,00
    Renewal fee for fourth 5-year period 200,00
    Renewal fee for fifth 5-year period 250,00
  10. What are the consequences of a failure to pay any renewal fees and what (if any) steps can be taken to remedy a failure to pay renewal fees?

    Failure to pay renewal fees will result to loss of the relevant IP right. However, the IP owner may still maintain its rights if it pays the renewal fees within 6 months of the due date. Such late renewal is burdened with a 50% surcharge.

  11. What are the requirements to assign ownership of each of the intellectual property rights described in questions 1-3?

    Registered intellectual property rights, know-how, as well as copyrighted works are assigned via a written contract. The assignment of other intellectual property rights does not require a written contract, although, for obvious reasons, a written contract is highly advisable.

  12. Is there a requirement to register an assignment of any of these intellectual property rights and, if so, what is the consequence of failing to register?

    The assignment of registered intellectual property rights and know-how (only for the contracting party that resides or has its registered seat in Greece) must be registered with the Greek Trademark Office (trade marks) or the Greek Patent Office (patents, SPCs, utility models, registered designs, know-how).

    Under Greek law, the assignee cannot claim and/or enforce its rights vis-a-vis third parties, unless the assignment is registered. However, the assignee will still be able to claim unfair competition protection, even in the absence of such registration. Regardless of the registration, the assignment will still be valid between the parties.

    Greek TM law (for trade marks), the Greek Codes of Civil, of Criminal and of Administrative Procedure (other IP rights and supplementary for trade marks) provide particular rules regarding the ability, requirements and procedure for assignees to enjoin potentially pending litigation. This primarily depends on whether the assignment is the result of a total legal succession (e.g. merger, acquisition) or a particular asset transfer.

    As there is no copyright registry, there is also not obligation to register a copyright assignment. However, the assignment is not valid at all in the absence of a written contract. In the interest of safeguarding authors' rights, Greek copyright law provides that only the author (creator) of a work that has been the subject-matter of a non-written assignment can claim such invalidity. In practice, this means that the assignor - author (creator) can choose to enforce a non-written assignment.

  13. What are the requirements to licence a third party to use each of the intellectual property rights described in questions 1-3?

    Please see above.

  14. Is there a requirement to register a licence of any of these intellectual property rights and, if so, what is the consequence of failing to register?

    Please see above.

  15. Are exclusive and non-exclusive licensees given different rights in respect of the enforcement of the licensed IP, and if so, how do those rights differ?

    No, for the purposes of enforcement of the licensed IP, the law does not distinguish between exclusive and non-exclusive licenses.

  16. Are there criminal sanctions for infringement of any intellectual property rights, and if so, what are they and how are they invoked?

    • Specific criminal provisions are available to enforce copyright and trade marks.
    • Copyright: Under Art. 66 of Law 2121/1993, any person who, in contravention of the provisions of this law or of the provisions of lawfully ratified multilateral international conventions on the protection of copyright, unlawfully makes a fixation of a work or of copies, reproduces them directly or indirectly, temporarily or permanently in any form, in whole or in part, translates, adapts, alters or transforms them, or distributes them to the public by sale or other means, or possesses with the intent of distributing them, rents, performs in public, broadcasts by radio or television or any other means, communicates to the public works or copies by any means, imports copies of a work illegally produced abroad without the consent of the author and, in general, exploits works, reproductions or copies being the object of copyright or acts against the moral right of the author to decide freely on the publication and the presentation of his work to the public without additions or deletions, shall be liable to imprisonment of no less than a year and to a fine of 2.900-15.000 EUR.

      If the financial gain sought or the damage caused by the infringing act is "particularly great", the sanction is a minimum 2 years imprisonment and heavy fines. If the perpetrator has acted "by profession" or "at a commercial scale" or if the circumstances in connection with the perpetration of the act indicate that the perpetrator party poses a serious threat to the protection of copyright or related rights, the sanction shall be imprisonment of up to ten (10) years, as well as revocation of the trading license of the undertaking which has served as the vehicle for the act. The act shall be deemed to have been perpetrated "by profession", if the perpetrator has prior irrevocable criminal copyright conviction (imprisonment).

      The above sanctions also apply against infringers of performers rights, phonogram, audiovisual works producers' rights, radio and television organizations' rights. They will also apply to any person who (i) uses or distributes, or possesses with the intent to distribute, any system or means whose sole purpose is to facilitate the unpermitted removal or neutralization of a technical system used to protect a computer program; (ii) manufactures or imports or distributes, or possesses with intent to distribute, equipment and other materials utilizable for the reproduction of a work which do not conform to the specifications determined pursuant to Article 59 of this Law; (iii) manufactures or imports or distributes, or possesses with intent to distribute, objects which can thwart the efficacy of the above-mentioned specifications, or engages in an act which can have that result; (iv) reproduces or uses a work without utilizing the equipment or without applying the systems specified pursuant to Article 60 of this Law; and (v) distributes, or possesses with intent to distribute, a phonogram or film without the special mark or control label specified pursuant to Article 61 of this Law.

      Additionally, any person who proceeds to unauthorized temporary or permanent reproduction of the database, translation, adaptation, arrangement and any other alteration of the database, distribution to the public of the database or of copies thereof, communication, display or performance of the database to the public, extraction and/or re-utilization of the whole or of a substantial part of the contents of the database without the authorization of the author thereof, is punished by imprisonment of at least one 1 year and fine.

    • Trade marks: Under Art. 156 of Law 4072/2012, any person who (i) uses a mark identical with or confusingly similar to a registered TM, (ii) uses a famous TM in violation of Article 125 paragraph 3 (c), with the intent to exploit or harm its reputation, (iii) intentionally puts into circulation, owns, imports or exports goods or provides services under a third party (iv) intentionally commits the acts of transiting counterfeit goods through Greece or importing such goods for re-export, uses the mark on genuine goods that the right holder intended to market as no-name goods, or removes the trade mark from genuine goods and markets them as no-name goods or under a different mark, is sanctioned with imprisonment of at least 6 months and fine of minimum 6.000 EUR.

      If the benefit sought or damage threatened by the above acts is "particularly great" and there subsists exploitation on a commercial scale, or the perpetrator acts "by profession, the sanction is imprisonment of at least 2 and a fine of 6.000 to 30.000 EUR.
    • For other IP rights, the Greek Criminal Code's provisions on forgery and/or fraud may be applicable. Indeed, forgery is generally invoked for the criminal protection of copyright, brands, registered and unregistered designs and unregistered signs.
    • There are also, not particularly strict, criminal provisions for unfair competition violation.
  17. What other enforcement options are available in your jurisdiction for each of the intellectual property rights described in questions 1-3? For example, civil court proceedings, intellectual property office proceedings, administrative proceedings, alternative dispute resolution.

    • The main enforcement tool for IP rights is civil court proceedings. Additionally, proceedings relating to the registration, validity of trade marks (e.g., opposition, cancellation or appeals against refusal) are instituted before the Greek TM Office and, on further appeal, the administrative courts.
    • Arbitration and mediation are also available to resolve intellectual property rights disputes.
    • Arbitration rules are included in the Greek Code of Civil Procedure (Arts. 867 et seq.).

      Mediation, which was introduced rather recently, does not currently appear to have gained any traction, at least as regards IP disputes. It may take the form of either judicial mediation or out-of-court mediation.

    • Finally, there are “soft law” alternatives, such as the Communication Review Board, a self-regulatory body of the Greek advertising industry. Its decisions are not enforceable, but, in practice, respected.
  18. What is the length and cost of such procedures?

    The length and cost of such procedures may vary significantly depending on the type of right and complexity of the matter.

    • Civil proceedings: By way of indication, a trade mark, design, copyright and/or unfair competition infringement matter, will typically take 12 - 14 months from the filing of a main infringement action until a first instance judgment is issued. Appeal proceedings will usually last slightly less.

      A main action over patent infringement or a patent nullity action will typically take 16 - 20 months from the filing of a main infringement action until a first instance judgment is issued and may delay further if the court will need to appoint a technical expert.Appeal proceedings will usually last slightly less.

    • Criminal proceedings: The length of criminal proceedings will vary depending on the court of venue and the gravity of the offense (misdemeanour or felony). Misdemeanour proceedings, which are the rule in IP infringement cases, will typically take 18 – 30 months, as from the filing of a criminal complaint or the ex officio initiation of criminal investigation, until a first instance judgment is issued. Appeal proceedings usually take 9 -20 months.
    • Greek TM Office and administrative court proceedings: Greek TM Office proceedings will typically last 10 – 14 months until a decision is issued. First Instance administrative court proceedings currently last significantly long (over 4 years), due to the backlog of pending administrative cases. Appeal proceeding usually take 16 – 22 months.
  19. Where court action is available, please provide details of which court(s) have jurisdiction, how to start proceedings, the basics of the procedure, the time to trial, the format of the trial, the time to judgment and award of relief and whether any appeal is available.

    IP disputes are brought before the IP Chambers of the Athens or Thessaloniki First Instance Courts, depending on the territoriality of the dispute. Actions based solely on unfair competition law may are brought before the competent first instance court, depending on the territoriality of the dispute.

    Proceedings are initiated via an introductory writ filed with the court and served upon the defendant within 30 days (or 60 days in case the defendant is domiciled outside Greece) as from filing.

    Parties must file their written arguments and evidence within 100 days (or 130 days in case the defendant is domiciled outside Greece) as from the filing of the action and a reply to each other's arguments and evidence within a further period of 15 days. Witness testimonies are submitted in the form of sworn affidavits.

    Upon conclusion of the aforesaid documents stage, the court schedules a hearing, which is a pure formality to conclude the proceedings. In exceptional circumstances, the court may require that witnesses are examined and cross-examined during such hearing.

    The court will usually deliver its judgment within 4 - 7 months as from the hearing date.

    Appeals to the first instance judgments are available and are brought before the IP Chambers of the Athens and Thessaloniki Courts of Appeal.

    A final appeal, only on points of law, may be filed with the Supreme Court, Areios Pagos.

  20. How does the court acquire any necessary information (fact or technical) and in what circumstances does it do so?

    a) Is there a technical judge, a judge with technical experience, a court appointed expert, an expert agreed by the parties, and/or parties' expert witness evidence?

    There are no technical judges or judges with technical experience in Greece. When the court deems that technical expertise is required, primarily in patent litigation, it issues an interim judgment appointing a court expert or allowing the parties to appoint such expert from the list of experts registered with the court. Parties may appoint their own technical experts to review and/or comment the court appointed expert's opinion.

    Regardless of that, parties may submit technical expert opinions / testimonies, as part of their evidence in trial.

    b) What mechanisms are available for compelling the obtaining and protecting of evidence? Is disclosure or discovery available?

    In civil litigation, the rules of the IPR Enforcement Directive 2004/48 have been transposed to the Greek legal order. In parallel, the Greek Code of Civil Procedure includes provision re. the protection of evidence, even as part of an interim relief application.

    There are limited rights to disclosure, which, are practically difficult to effectively enforce. The most effective mechanism is the one enshrined in the IPR Enforcement Directive.
    In criminal cases, the task of collecting and safeguarding evidence lies with the Public Prosecutor and the investigating authorities. They have wide discretion, but limited resources.

  21. How is information and evidence submitted to the court scrutinised? For example, is cross-examination available and if so, how frequently is it employed in practice?

    • Under the current civil procedure system (in force as from January 2016), in main proceedings witness testimonies are submitted in the form of sworn affidavits, where cross-examination is not possible. As already noted in Q.18,in exceptional circumstances, the court may require that witnesses are examined and cross-examined during the hearing. The system does not apply to preliminary injunction proceedings where witnesses (one from each side) are examined and cross-examined during the hearing. Sworn affidavits and/or expert opinions are also available in preliminary injunction proceedings.
    • In criminal proceedings, the case file is the responsibility of the prosecuting authorities. However, parties to the proceedings, either at pre-trial, or during trial, may bring to the authorities' or the court's attention documents and evidence, pertinent to the case. Witnesses are examined and cross-examined during a criminal court hearing. In rare circumstances, where a witness is unavailable and the court finds it appropriate, the court may refer to the pre-trial testimony of such witness.
    • In administrative proceedings, the case file is the responsibility of the administrative authorities. However, parties to the proceedings, either at pre-trial, or during trial, may bring to the authorities' or the court's attention documents and evidence, pertinent to the case. Witnesses are very rarely examined in administrative proceedings. They may be examined and cross-examined either at the hearing, following prior notification, or before a Notary Public, again following prior notification. In both cases, cross-examination is available.
  22. What customs procedures are available to stop the import and/or export of infringing goods?

    The procedures enshrined in Regulation 608/2013 are applied by the Greek customs authorities.

  23. Are any non-court enforcement options or dispute resolution mechanisms mandatory in respect of intellectual property disputes in any circumstances? If so, please provide details.

    No. For voluntary non-court enforcement options please refer to Q. 17 above.

  24. What options are available to settle intellectual property disputes in your jurisdiction?

    Parties may settle IP disputes out of court, even while proceedings are pending. The settlement agreement may also be submitted to the court, thereby gaining the status of a court order.

    The freedom of the parties is restricted in criminal proceedings pertaining to ex officio prosecuted offenses (notably copyright infringement), but the criminal court will, in practice, consider a settlement agreement in deciding the case.

  25. What is required to establish infringement of each of the intellectual property rights described in questions 1-3? What evidence is necessary in this context?

    To establish infringement, the aggrieved party must (i) establish its rights and (ii), depending on the type of IP right, prove the actions / behaviour amounting to unauthorised use, and/or interference with the exercise of its rights by the defendant. In particular:

    • Patents, utility models. The courts take a holistic approach to the subject-matter of the patent asserted in order to decide whether the defendant's activity is covered by the claims of the patent. This approach can be seen as an application of the doctrine of equivalents, although the case law is not very sophisticated. The same approach is applied mutatis mutandis for plant varieties and semiconductor topographies.
    • Registered designs. Identity and/or an impression of similarity in the eyes of the "informed user" of the design must be proven to establish infringement.
    • Trademarks, unregistered designs and marks. Identity and/or confusing similarity between the marks involved are necessary to establish infringement. Also, in the case of famous TMs, the court will assess whether, regardless of confusing similarity, (i) there is such similarity between the famous TM and the later mark as that the relevant public establishes a link between the two and (ii) use without due cause of the later mark for would take unfair advantage of, or be detrimental to, the distinctive character or the repute of the earlier trade mark.
    • Trade secrets. Unauthorised communication of a business's confidential information by an employee or third party to others, with competitive intent.
    • Copyright. Unauthorised interference with the rights of the copyright owner, such as unauthorised reproduction, adaptation etc.

    For the purposes of injunctive relief, the culpability of the defendant is not relevant. However, for the purposes of a damages award, the plaintiff must, at minimum, prove negligence on the part of the defendant.

    Evidence necessary to establish infringement should include proof of plaintiff's rights (e.g. registration certificates, evidence of use of the relevant rights, such as samples of products, photos, documents of third parties) and proof of the defendant's actions (e.g. samples or photos of infringing goods, photos, web site screen shots). Witness testimonies, market surveys and expert opinions are also very useful.

  26. What defences to infringement are available?

    Patents, utility models
    In addition to asserting that the alleged infringing action / products do not fall within the claimed subject matter of the patent / utility model in question, the defendant may claim the following:

    • Nullity. The defendant may raise a nullity claim or file a counter-claim over nullity and introduce it before the same court. The grounds for patent nullity are set out in Section G below.
    • The subject matter of the invention has been conceived and exploited by the defendant or its assignor at the time of filing of the asserted patent and use of the subject matter is necessary for the defendant's business.
    • Use of the patent for research purposes.
    • Exhaustion of patent rights.
    • Time-bar. Injunction and/or damages claims are time-barred 5 years as from the date the plaintiff became aware of the infringement and the identity of the infringer and, in any event, 20 years as from the infringement.
    • Acquiescence and/or abusive exercise of the right holder's substantive rights. This would take the form of a claim the plaintiff has knowingly put up with the infringement for a considerable period of time, thus affording the defendant a legitimate interest to continue with its actions. Under Greek law, such defense would be based on Art 281 of the Greek Civil Code, which prohibits the use of private rights in violation of their economic and/or social purpose. However, there is a substantial body of case law ruling that such defense cannot be raised in intellectual property cases, as IP law does not only safeguard private (i.e. IP owner's) rights but also consumers' interests, which are of public law nature.

    Non-culpability (lack of negligence and/or intent). It can only be raised as a defense against a damages (pecuniary or non pecuniary) claim, not against injunctive relief.

    Registered designs
    In addition to or regardless of a claim over lack of similarity, the defendant may raise the following defenses:

    Private, non-commercial use of the design, and/or use for experimental or research purposes and/or reproduction of the design to provide examples or for teaching purposes
    Nullity. The defendant may raise a nullity claim or file a counter-claim over nullity and introduce it before the same court. The grounds for patent nullity are set out in Section G below.

    Design rights exhaustion.
    Time-bar. Injunction and/or damages claims are time-barred 5 years as from the date the plaintiff became aware of the infringement and the identity of the infringer and, in any event, 20 years as from the infringement.

    Acquiescence and/or abusive exercise of the right holder's substantive rights. This would take the form of a claim the plaintiff has knowingly put up with the infringement for a considerable period of time, thus affording the defendant a legitimate interest to continue with its actions. Under Greek law, such defense would be based on Art 281 of the Greek Civil Code, which prohibits the use of private rights in violation of their economic and/or social purpose. However, there is a substantial body of case law ruling that such defense cannot be raised in intellectual property cases, as IP law does not only safeguard private (i.e. IP owner's) rights but also consumers' interests, which are of public law nature.

    Non-culpability (lack of negligence and/or intent). It can only be raised as a defense against a damages (pecuniary or non pecuniary) claim, not against injunctive relief.

    The above defenses apply mutatis mutandis to semiconductor topographies infringement cases.

    Trade marks
    In addition to asserting lack of consumer confusion and/or famous TM violation, the defendant could raise the following defenses:

    Use of (i) the name or address of the defendant, where the defendant is a natural person; (ii) signs or indications which are not distinctive or which concern the kind, quality, quantity, intended purpose, value, geographical origin, the time of production of goods or of rendering of the service, or other characteristics of the goods or services; and (iii) the trade mark itself for the purpose of identifying or referring to goods or services as those of the proprietor of that trade mark, in particular, where the use of that trade mark is necessary to indicate the intended purpose of a product or service, in particular as accessories or spare parts.

    TM rights exhaustion.
    Time-bar. An injunction claim is time-barred 20 years as from the date the plaintiff became aware of the infringement and the identity of the infringer, but a pecuniary damages claim is time barred 3 years after such time and a non pecuniary damages claim 5 years as from that time, except where the infringement would also qualify as a felony, in which case the time bar is extended to 20 years from the date the plaintiff became aware of the infringement and the identity of the infringer.

    Acquiescence. The right holder cannot prohibit the use of a later registered trade mark, if it has knowingly put up with use of such later registered mark for a periof of 5 consecutive years.

    Abusive exercise of the right holder's substantive rights. This would take the form of a claim the plaintiff has knowingly put up with the infringement for a considerable period of time, thus affording the defendant a legitimate interest to continue with its actions. Under Greek law, such defense would be based on Art 281 of the Greek Civil Code, which prohibits the use of private rights in violation of their economic and/or social purpose. However, there is a substantial body of case law ruling that such defense cannot be raised in intellectual property cases, as IP law does not only safeguard private (i.e. IP owner's) rights but also consumers' interests, which are of public law nature.

    Non-culpability (lack of negligence and/or intent). It can only be raised as a defense against a damages (pecuniary or non pecuniary) claim, not against injunctive relief.

    As far as invalidity is concerned, it is not a possible defense in trade mark enforcement cases, as the relevant cancellation action must be filed before the Greek TM Office and Greek courts are bound by the status of the mark at the time of proceedings. For this last reason, established case law on the matter also effectively rules out the possibility of the court staying proceedings, until a final decision is issued by the Greek TM Office and/or the administrative courts. However, in recent years, there have been instances where the courts have found that registered TMs infringed upon prior registered or un-registered rights, without this affecting their status as registered marks.

    Unfair competition
    In addition to asserting lack of violation of established business morals, the defendant may claim the following:

    Time-bar. Unfair competition claims are time barred 18 months after the plaintiff became aware of the infringement and the identity of the infringer.

    Lack of confusing similarity (unregistered signs).
    The disputed information was not confidential or proprietary, had already been publicly disclosed by the plaintiff, or was disclosed in the context of legal obligations of the defendant towards regulatory authorities or courts (trade secrets).

    Copyright
    Use of the disputed work falls within exhaustive list of limitations to copyright provided under Greek copyright law, including private use, quotation of extracts, use in school textbooks and anthologies, use for teaching, research or criticism purposes, current event reporting etc. There is no "fair use" doctrine for copyright infringement in Greece
    Time-bar. Injunction and/or damages claims are time-barred 5 years as from the date the plaintiff became aware of the infringement and the identity of the infringer and, in any event, 20 years as from the infringement.

    Acquiescence and/or abusive exercise of the right holder's substantive rights. This would take the form of a claim the plaintiff has knowingly put up with the infringement for a considerable period of time, thus affording the defendant a legitimate interest to continue with its actions. Under Greek law, such defense would be based on Art 281 of the Greek Civil Code, which prohibits the use of private rights in violation of their economic and/or social purpose. However, there is a substantial body of case law ruling that such defense cannot be raised in intellectual property cases, as IP law does not only safeguard private (i.e. IP owner's) rights but also consumers' interests, which are of public law nature.

    Non-culpability (lack of negligence and/or intent). It can only be raised as a defense against a damages (pecuniary or non pecuniary) claim, not against injunctive relief.

  27. Who can challenge each of the intellectual property rights described in questions 1-3?

    Any person establishing legitimate interest may challenge the IP rights described in Section A. Most commonly, such person will be a competitor.

  28. When may a challenge to these intellectual property rights be made (e.g. during any registration process or at any time during the subsistence of the right)?

    Trade marks may be challenged either during the registration procedure (opposition) or post-registration (cancellation action).

    The other registered rights described in section A may only be challenged after they are registered.

    Non-registered IP rights can be challenged at any time during the subsistence of the right, most commonly as a defense in infringement proceedings.

  29. Briefly, what is the forum and the procedure for challenging each of these intellectual property rights and what are the grounds for a finding of invalidity of each of these intellectual property rights?

    • Patents, utility models, designs, and registered designs can be challenged before the civil courts via a nullity action or as a defense in infringement proceedings.

      Patent nullity grounds: (i) the invention does not meet the requirements of being new, susceptible to industrial application, and/or involving an inventive step, (ii) the disclosure contained in the patent is insufficient for the patent to be carried out by the person skilled in the art, (iii) the subject matter of the patent is excluded from patentability, or it goes beyond the content of protection as requested in the application, and (iv) the patentee is not the true inventor or inventor's successor.

      Utility model nullity grounds: (i) the utility model is not new or industrially or a three-dimensional object with definite shape and form, and/or capable of giving a solution to a technical problem, and (ii) the right holder is not the true inventor or inventor's successor.
      Semiconductor topographies nullity grounds: the right does not meet the requirements of not being common in the semiconductors industry.

      Registered design nullity grounds: (i) the design or model is not new or of individual character, (ii) the form of the product or its interconnection with other products is not appropriate for protection because they are dictated solely by a technical function or because they are linking elements, (iii) exploitation or publication is contrary to public order or established morals and (iv) the holder of the registered design is not the true author or author's successor.
    • Trade marks: The forum for challenging trade marks is the Greek TM Office and, on further appeal, the administrative courts. The rights may be attacked either during the registration procedure (opposition) or post-registration (cancellation action).

      The main grounds for seeking invalidity of registered TMs are (i) lack of any distinctive character, (ii) descriptiveness, (iii) deceptiveness as to the nature, quality or geographical origin of the goods or service (iv) the mark in question has become customary in the current language or in the bona fide and established trade practices, (v) violation of established morals and public interest, (vi) identity or confusing similarity with earlier TMs, copyright or unregistered designs and sings, (vii) detriment to or free-riding on the repute or distinctiveness of an earlier famous TM, and (viii) non-use for a consecutive period of 5 years.
    • Unregistered designs and marks may be challenged before the civil courts, usually as a defense in infringement proceedings. The grounds of invalidity of such rights are mainly (i) lack of any distinctive character, (ii) descriptiveness, (iii) deceptiveness as to the nature, quality or geographical origin of the goods or service, and (iv) non-use in the market.
  30. Are there any other methods to remove or limit the effect of any of the intellectual property rights described in questions 1-3, for example, declaratory relief or licences of right?

    Declaratory relief; i.e. a main action seeking a declaratory judgment of non infringement, is generally not available in Greece.

    Compulsory licenses are allowed, mainly in connection with invention-related rights and only under strict circumstances.

  31. What remedies (both interim and final) are available for infringement of each of the intellectual property rights described in questions 1-3?

    Both interim and final relief is available over IP infringement and are generally similar for all IP rights.

    The main remedies afforded in interim relief proceedings are: preliminary injunction, provisional seizure of infringing items, publication of the operative part of the judgment in the press or online, and threat of pecuniary damages in case of repetition of the infringement. Moreover, an order for monetary guarantee against future damages claims or "freezing" of assets may also be available. Finally, for flagrant or very urgent matters, Greek civil procedure law also allows for temporary restraining orders.

    The main remedies afforded in main proceedings are: definitive injunction, destruction or delivery up of infringing items, damages (pecuniary and non pecuniary), publication of the operative part of the judgment in the press or online, threat of pecuniary damages in case of repetition of the infringement. Pecuniary damages are awarded in the form of the infringer's profits from the infringement, hypothetical royalties for a license of the relevant IP right, or restoration of the IP owner's incurred loss on account of the infringement.

  32. What are the costs of enforcement proceedings and is any kind of costs recovery available for successful parties? Is there a procedural mechanism enabling or requiring security for costs?

    The costs of enforcement proceedings vary depending on the type and complexity of the case. However, as a rule of thumb, Greece is not among the "expensive" IP litigation jurisdictions in Europe.

    Cost recovery is available and is employed by the courts. In practice, however, only a small fraction of the costs is awarded to the successful party, with the exception of costs award in cases where the dispute value is very significant and the case not a complex one.

    The Greek Code of Civil Procedure includes provisions enabling security for costs, although this option is rarely employed by litigants and, more importantly, courts are not particularly amenable to such procedure and will, generally, grant such a request, only rarely.

    Costs are not recovered in criminal and administrative proceedings. In the case of administrative proceedings, only official fees are recoverable.