This is merely a hypothetical scenario but, I've been reading this article with regards to patents made by Greek nationals, which states that:

In cases where they are working in scientific research that may result in patent applications, there is an absolute obligation that such patent applications be filed first in Greece. According to legislation dating back to 1963 (law 4325/63) all patent applications by Greek nationals need to be first filed in Greece in order to receive a check to determine whether they are relevant to national security. Accordingly, the restrictions apply to all inventions, having no priority application filed in Greece, where the inventor or applicant is a Greek citizen, regardless of whether he or she is resident in Greece.

I was wondering, how enforcable is a condition like this?

Could EPO check with the Greek patent office (OBI) that I've already filed for patent there? Is there any case in which the EPO has denied a patent application because it wasn't filed in the country of the applicant first?

In the article it is also stated that:

Breach of the obligation to first file in Greece is considered a criminal offence, which could result to imprisonment of the inventor or applicant disclosing the invention abroad.

Is there an official source / document that describes the reprocussions? Anyone knows of a case in which this happened?

1 Answer 1


Many countries have a rule about filing locally first, not necessarily with criminal penalties. Greece is free to make up rules for its citizens but that does not constrain the EPO. If a Greek broke the rule and filed first with the EPO, Greece could presumably jail them while the EPO granted them a patent. The EPO does not enforce Greece's rules.

The U.S. requires applicants with inventions made in the U.S. to obtain a foreign filing license before filing outside the U.S. Normally this is done automatically when anything is filed with the USPTO. Six months after filing with the USPTO (either a national application or a PCT with the U.S. as RO) you either implicitly have a foreign filing license or have been told your application is under a secrecy order.

If an applicant with an invention developed in the U.S. desires to file first in the UK, EPO or PCT directly with the IB in Geneva (for example) they can explicitly request a foreign fling license from the USPTO without actually filing. That can be by sending in a draft of an application or could be done with only an abstract.

Unlike the case mentioned regarding Greek nationals, the U.S. rule is not related to the nationality of the inventor but to the location the invention took place. A U.S. national who happened to invent while in Canada would not be required to get a foreign filing license since such a license is essentially an export license. An invention made in Canada started out as outside the U.S. so there is not issue of "exporting".

A Greek who invented in the U.S. would presumably get a foreign filing license from the USPTO so that they could first file in Greece.

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