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125 years Austrian Patent office

open to new ideas since 1899

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We're celebrating an anniversary!

125 years of bureaucracy? No, 125 years of being open to new things! For this long, the Austrian Patent Office has been the first point of contact for people with ideas. Whether it's patents, trademarks, or designs – we provide support in protecting intellectual property from imitators. Our guiding principle is to always be open to new ideas and approaches. This still doesn’t work without any bureaucracy at all - sorry :) – as we always act in the interest of the Republic of Austria and comply with our legal obligations. The birth of the Austrian Patent Office on January 1, 1899, was ushered in by a piece of legislation – in our case, the Austrian Patent Act, which forms the basis of all of our endeavors.


Some history

Before 1899

Before the establishment of the Patent Office in 1899, the Austro-Hungarian Emperor used to grant so-called “privileges” instead of patents, e.g. for a foldable bicycle from 1896 by the inventor and bicycle manufacturer Johann Puch. Originals of privileges from the imperial era still form part of the historical collection of the Austrian Patent Office and can be accessed to this day, now online via https://privilegien.patentamt.at/index/


On January 2, 1899, the Austrian newspaper "Neue Freie Presse" reports the founding of the Imperial and Royal Patent Office "without any ceremony”. The welcoming of the new staff by the Minister of Commerce, Baron von Dipauli, needs to be postponed as the Minister has “not yet fully recovered from his influenza attack”. From now on, Siebensterngasse 14 is the number one address for inventions.


Austria-Hungary joins the Paris Convention on Industrial Property and the Madrid Agreement on the International Registration of Trademarks. The same year, the applications for the trademarks "Fritze Lacke" and "Sidol" are filed, which are both registered word and figurative marks to this day.


The Patent Office moves to the so-called “government building” at Stubenring 1, where there is sufficient space for the ever-growing specialized library.



After the Nazis take power, the Austrian Patent Office becomes a branch of the German Patent Office. Just a few days later, the acting president, Johann Werner, is replaced by a Nazi party member. Nine civil servants immediately lose their jobs. Three technicians, namely Stefan Jellinek, Paul Karplus and Heinrich Lichtblau, are murdered as a result of the Shoah.


To protect the library of the Patent Office from bombing, it is relocated to a wine cellar in Retz, Lower Austria. While the books are kept safe from the war, they are not protected from moisture: a large part of the collection falls victim to mold.


The Patent Office is relocated to a historic building in Vienna's city center and starts accepting applications again from August 13. Due to denazification regulations, only one out of eight legal officers and 22 out of 70 patent examiners can be employed by the reestablished institution.


The Wirtschaftswunder (“economic miracle”) of the post-war era ushers in important innovations, such as the “Linz-Donawitz process” by VOEST that revolutionizes the steel industry. Administrative proceedings are reliant on time-tested methods such as the pictured “PAZ machine”, which was used to punch mark voluminous patent applications with their filing date (Patentamtszahl – PAZ).


Austria joins the European Patent Convention as well as the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The PCT greatly facilitates patent applications – in more than 150 countries today.


A comprehensive reform of trademark law leads to harmonization with trademark protection on the European and international levels. In the 1990s, there are also numerous exhibitions taking place at the Austrian Patent Office.


The Patent Office moves from Kohlmarkt to Dresdner Straße in the Brigittenau district of Vienna. The newspaper "Der Standard" headlines: "Patent Office moves to the periphery." The new offices offer less imperial and royal flair but a more modern setup and lower rent instead.



The digital age reaches patent applications. The first patent filed online is a "Toothed wheel for a play-free spur gear set" by MIBA Sinter Austria GmbH.


Mariana Karepova becomes the first woman at the head of the Austrian Patent Office. Under her leadership, the time-honored institution transforms into a modern service provider with all of its offerings available online.


The National Patent Award is granted for the first time. Since then, it has been awarded every two years in the categories of patent, trademark, and in a special category. The trophies are handed out in a solemn ceremony held by the Ministry of Innovation and the Patent Office.


The entire services of the Patent Office are fully available in digital format. All submissions – whether for patents, trademarks, or designs – can be filed online. The last fax message reaches us just before the end of the year.


After decades of negotiations, the Unitary Patent is introduced on June 1, 2023, with effect in 17 European countries. Applicants can save a lot of paper, time – and money, as only a single renewal fee is charged for all member states, not per country as before.


Nowadays, we have a strong need for innovations that make the world better: climate crisis, pandemics, wars, dealing with AI. All of this has significant implications for people and therefore also for our work at the Austrian Patent Office. We – President Stefan Harasek (pictured) and the entire team – strive to create ideal conditions for good ideas every day.


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