Representation before the Office for Intellectual Property
In principle, no one is required to be represented by a patent agent before the Office for Intellectual Property. But if you would like to find representation, the Office provides a register of accredited patent agents.
This above-mentioned rule does not apply to natural and legal persons without a residence or effective establishment in an EU member state. In principle, these persons must be represented by an accredited agent in order to act before the Office, regarding patents.
Persons who wish to register with the Register of Accredited Patent Agents must meet several conditions.
The most important is to pass an exam on industrial property, and on patent rights in particular.
Applicants must have participated in studying, preparing, editing and obtaining patents, during at least three years, as assistant of an accredited agent or under his supervision or as a duly authorized employee.
The activities which were fulfilled in another Member State of the European Union or in the European patent office are counted for the calculation of the necessary years of professional experience, but can only count for a maximum of two years.
To sit the exam, the applicant must also:
- Be a citizen and resident of an European Union Member state;
- Hold a Belgian university or higher learning degree, obtained after at least four years of studies in a scientific, technical or legal discipline. Degrees obtained in foreign countries after at least four years of studies, in the same disciplines, are authorized as long as they receive advance recognition from relevant Belgian government authorities.
The exam is organized once per year on a date which is set by Ministerial Decree (generally in June). The date, regulations and the programme of the exam are published in the Belgian Official Gazette. For 2017, please see the Ministerial Decree of 15 February 2017 (MB 23/02/2017, p .29913).
Information on signing up with the Register of Accredited Patent Agents and registering for the 2017 exam.
You can receive more information on the exam and registration with the Register of Accredited Patent Agents at the Office for Intellectual Property.
European Union citizens
As part of freedom of establishment, any citizen of a European Union member state may live in Belgium and work as a patent agent. They must follow all Belgian legal conditions and sign up with the Belgian Register of Patent Agents.
However, if the EU citizen received in another country an equivalent qualification to the one required in Belgium to become an agent (for example, already registered in the Register of Patent Agents of an other member state), this person is not required to meet all the conditions normally required to sign up with the Belgian Register. In particular, this EU citizen will not need to sit the exam required to sign up with the Belgian Register. However, the Agent Accreditation Commission may require that the person sit an aptitude exam if their education was in a field which is substantially different from those covered by the degree programme required in Belgium.
You can receive more information on the aptitude test from the Office for Intellectual Property.