Table of Contents
Representation before the Intellectual Property Office
When it comes to patents, in principle, no one is obliged to be represented by a patent attorney before the Belgian Intellectual Property Office. But if you want to be represented, it is advisable to use an accredited patent attorney (or similar person, e.g. a lawyer). The Office holds a register of accredited patent attorneys.
However, the above-mentioned rule does not apply to natural and legal persons which have neither domicile nor effective establishment in a Member State of the European Economic Area. These legal persons must, in principle, be represented by an accredited patent attorney to act before the Office in the area of patents.
As of 1st January 2021 the United Kingdom is considered a third country for the application of the rules on representation in patent matters. You will find more information about the consequences of Brexit for patent attorneys and for patent applicants or holders in the information letter from the Office for Intellectual Property of 5 March 2021 (PDF, 736.42 KB).
Conditions for listing in the register of accredited patent attorneys
Persons wanting to be listed in the register of accredited patent attorneys must meet a number of conditions.
The most important is to pass an examination on industrial property, and on patent law in particular.
As an assistant to an accredited agent and under his management, or as a mandated employee, you must also have spent three years studying, preparing, drafting and obtaining patents.
Experience acquired in another Member State of the European Economic Area or at the European Patent Office is taken into consideration when calculating the three years of professional experience.
To sit the examination, you must also:
- be a citizen of a Member State of the European Economic Area and be domiciled in such a State or be a citizen of and be domiciled in the United Kingdom;
- hold a Belgian university diploma or a long Belgian higher education diploma, issued after at least four years of study of a scientific, technical or legal discipline. Diplomas issued abroad after at least four years of study, in the same disciplines, are authorised provided that their equivalence has been recognised in advance by the relevant Belgian authorities.
The examination is held at least once a year on a date set by ministerial decree (generally in June). The date, regulations and programme for the examination are published in the Belgian Official Journal.
For more information about the examination and listing in the register of accredited patent attorneys, please contact the Intellectual Property Office.
Those who are listed in the Register of accredited patent attorneys, automatically become members of the Institute for Patent Attorneys.
Citizens of a Member State of the European Economic Area
In the context of freedom of establishment, any citizen of a Member State of the European Economic Area may freely establish in Belgium to exercise the profession of patent attorney. He must respect the conditions set out by Belgian law and therefore, be listed in the Belgian register of patent attorneys.
However, if the citizen of a Member State of the European Economic Area has acquired, in a different Member State, an equivalent qualification to that required in Belgium to become a patent attorney (for example, he is already listed in the register of patent attorneys in another Member State), he will not be obliged to meet all the conditions normally required for registration in the Belgian register.
This means, in particular, that the citizen will not have to sit the test for listing in the Belgian register. However, the Commission for accreditation of Patent Attorneys may require him to take an aptitude test if his patent attorney training covered subjects that are substantially different from those covered by the diploma required in Belgium.
For more information about the aptitude test, please contact the Belgian Intellectual Property Office.
Freedom to provide services
In the context of the freedom to provide services, any citizen of a Member State of the European Economic Area may move to Belgium to temporarily or occasionally exercise the profession of patent attorney. This person must meet the conditions set out in Belgian legislation. This means that he must be a citizen of a Member State and be authorised to exercise the profession of patent attorney in a Member State. In this event, he may address the Belgian Intellectual Property Office on the subject of patents in the same way as an accredited patent attorney.
For more information on registration in the context of freedom to provide services, please contact the Belgian Intellectual Property Office.
Listing of groups of attorneys
For their patent representation before the Belgian Intellectual Property Office, applicants and right holders can not only appoint accredited patent attorneys but also groups of attorneys. This has the advantage that these people do not have to individually mandate each accredited patent attorney who is a member of this group.
However, the power given by the applicants and right holders to a group of attorneys does not concern the group as such, as representation before the Belgian Intellectual Property Office is exclusively reserved for natural persons. The sole consequence of appointing a group is that each member of the group is deemed to represent the mandator.
To be appointed, a group of attorneys must be listed with the Belgian Intellectual Property Office. After listing, groups must notify the Office of any changes to their composition, name or address.
You can find more information on the appointment and registration of groups of attorneys in the following circular from the Belgian Intellectual Property Office.
You can use the following form for the listing or delisting of your group of attorneys with the Belgian Intellectual Property Office:
You can use the following form to change the composition, name or address of your group of attorneys:
The completed forms must be sent to the Belgian Intellectual Property Office by post or by fax:By post:
Federal Public Service Economy, S.M.E.s, Self-employed and Energy
Intellectual Property Office
Rue du Progrès, 50
By fax: +32 2 277 52 62
Removal from the register of accredited patent attorneys
Any accredited patent attorney can be removed from the register of accredited patent attorneys. There can be several reasons for their removal: in the event of death, on a voluntary basis (e.g. in the event of retirement), or a forced cancellation (e.g. in the case of non-payment of annual fees of the Institute of Patent Attorneys).
In order to be voluntarily removed from the register of accredited patent attorneys, the patent attorney must send his request by mail, fax, in person or via our eOLF online submission portal to the Intellectual Property Office. In doing so, he can use the form below.
After his removal from the register, a patent attorney may no longer be established in Belgium to practice as a patent attorney. This means that he can no longer act on behalf of a patent holder or applicant and will be removed from any patent application, patent and/or certificate for which he is still registered as a patent attorney. It would be appropriate for him to transfer the files for which he is acting as a representative to a new representative, in consultation with his client, or to take other steps to ensure continuity in the follow-up of the files.
He should therefore, in consultation with his client, transfer the files for which he is registered as a patent attorney to a new patent attorney or to make other arrangements to ensure the continuity of the follow-up of the files.