The patent attorney profession was regulated further by the Law of 8 July 2018. This law complements the previous regulatory framework (which primarily focused on access to the profession) and contains three key elements:

  • improved control of access to the patent attorney profession in Belgium for patent attorneys established in other Member States of the European Economic Area who are exercising their freedom to provide services in Belgium;
  • the establishment of an Institute for Patent Attorneys, of which all patent attorneys working in Belgium are members. This Institute represents the professional group, enforces the ethical rules and coordinates ongoing training;
  • the obligation to take out insurance, the protection of the title of patent attorney, the establishment of professional secrecy, including attorney-client privilege, as well as the introduction of a right to speak for patent attorneys in patent dispute.

The Institute for Patent Attorneys is the professional organisation established by law for patent attorneys in Belgium. All accredited patent attorneys are members, as are the free service providers who practise the profession of patent attorney in Belgium on a temporary or occasional basis.

The Institute is a legal person, based in the Brussels-Capital Region, and consists of three bodies:

  • A general assembly of all members, which is responsible for taking the most important decisions. Free service providers have no voting rights in this body.
  • A council of four members elected from the general assembly, which is tasked with the management of the Institute.
  • A disciplinary commission of three members and three alternates elected from the general assembly, which is chaired by a magistrate or a lawyer or his alternate. The disciplinary commission is responsible for enforcing the ethical rules applicable to patent attorneys.

A government commissioner supervises the actions taken by the general assembly and by the council.

In addition to complying with the ethical rules and following further training, the membership of the Institute for Patent Attorneys has four main consequences:

  • Members have to take out professional liability insurance.
  • Members hold the protected title of patent attorney within the framework of their professional practice. However, members of the Institute who provide services in Belgium on a temporary or occasional basis must use the professional title or title of formal qualification of the Member State where they are established.
  • Members must observe professional secrecy. In this context, they also have an attorney‑client privilege that is to make it easier to invoke the confidentiality of communication with their clients in foreign patent disputes.
  • The members have a right to speak in patent disputes before the Belgian courts, without prejudice to the lawyer's role as dominus litis. This right to speak allows members to explain, among other things, the technical aspects or certain legal aspects of a patent file.

The Law of 8 July 2018, including the establishment of the Institute for Patent Attorneys, entered into force in phases. On 1 April 2024, this law was fully implemented. You can find furhter information in the information letter of 5 March 2024 (PDF, 775.34 KB).

Last update
2 April 2024