Representation before the Office for Intellectual Property
When it comes to patents, in principle no one is obliged to be represented by an agent before the Belgian Office for Intellectual Property. But if you want to be represented, it is recommended to use a recognised patent attorney (or similar person, e.g. a lawyer). The Office holds a register of recognised patent attorneys.
However, the above-mentioned rule does not apply to natural and legal persons who have neither domicile nor effective establishment in a Member State of the European Economic Area. These persons must, in principle, be represented by recognised recognised patent attorney in procedures before the Office.
Conditions for registration in the register of recognised patent attorneys
Persons wanting to be registered in the register of recognised 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 a recognised patent attorney and under their 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 national of a Member State of the European Economic Area and be domiciled in such a State;
- hold a Belgian university diploma or a 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 accepted provided that their equivalence has been recognised in advance by the relevant Belgian authorities.
The examination is held 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 2020, see the ministerial decree of 16 March 2020.
Information note (PDF, 131.33 KB) concerning registration in the Register of recognised patent attorneys and registration for the 2020 examination.
For more information about the examination and registration in the register of recognised patent attorneys, please contact the Office for Intellectual Property.
Nationals of a Member State of the European Economic Area
In the context of freedom of establishment, any national of a Member State of the European Economic Area may establish himself in Belgium to exercise the patent attorney profession. He must respect the conditions set out by Belgian law and therefore be registered in the register of Belgian patent attorneys.
However, if the national of a Member State of the European Economic Area has, in a different Member State, obtained an equivalent qualification to that required in Belgium to become a patent attorney (for example, they are 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 national will not have to sit the examination for registration in the Belgian register. The Commission for the Recognition of Patent Attorneys may, however, require him to take an aptitude test if the training he received covered matters that are substantially different from those covered by the diploma required in Belgium.
For more information about the aptitude test, please contact the Belgian Office for Intellectual Property.
Freedom to provide services
In the context of the freedom to provide services, any national of a Member State of the European Economic Area may move to Belgium to temporarily or occasionally exercise the patent attorney profession. This person must meet the conditions set out in Belgian legislation. This means that he must be a national of a Member State and be authorised to exercise the patent attorney profession in a Member State. In this event, he may act before the Belgian Office for Intellectual Property in patent matters in the same way as a recognised patent attorney.
For more information on registration in the context of freedom to provide services, please contact the Belgian Office for Intellectual Property.
Registration of groups of attorneys
For their representation in patent matters before the Belgian Office for Intellectual Property, applicants and rightholders can not only appoint recognised patent attorneys but also groups of attorneys. This has the advantage that they do not have to individually mandate each recognised attorney who is a member of the group.
However, the power given by the applicants and rightholders to a group of attorneys does not concern the group as such, as representation before the Belgian Office for Intellectual Property 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 agents must be registered with the Belgian Office for Intellectual Property. After registration, 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 Office for Intellectual Property.
You can use the following form for the registration or deregistration of your group of attorneys with the Belgian Office for Intellectual Property:
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 Office for Intellectual Property by post or by fax:By post:
Federal Public Service Economy, S.M.E.s, Self-employed and Energy
Office for Intellectual Property
Rue du Progrès, 50
By fax: +32 2 277 52 62