Guide to business in Spain Guía de negocios en España


1. Introduction


1.1. What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property (IP) guarantees businesses protection of their intangible assets through the legal recognition of exclusive rights in such assets (copyrights in creative works and industrial property rights in industrial assets, such as trademarks, patents, designs etc.). Before launching in a new market, the company must take the necessary steps to ensure that its intangible assets are correctly managed and protected.

Table 1

intellectual property

Trade secrets

Trademarks ®

Copyright ©

Patents-Utility models

Spanish designs

Community designs

What is protected








It will depend on the policies of the company regarding know-how and confidential information.

10 years, renewable indefinitely.

70 years from the death of the author.

Patents: 20 years maximum, renewable annually.

Utility models: 10 years maximum, renewable annually.

5 years extendible up to 25 years.

Unregistered: 3 years


5 years, renewable for up to 25 years.

Protection requirements

Secrecy and confidentiality

Value of the information.

Distinctiveness and use.


Novelty, useful and non-obvious subject matter.

Novelty and individual character.

Novelty and individual character.

1.2. What is the registration principle?

In Spain, registration at the relevant industrial property office is a prior requirement in order to obtain protection of intellectual property (as we will see, this principle does not govern copyright).

Spain, unlike the United States for example, follows the "first-to-file" system, which means that the first person to apply for registration will have prior rights. Use does not afford any rights against third parties except in the case of well-known marks.

Registration entails payment of the official fees, whose amount will depend on circumstances such as the specific type of right applied for, the number of classes, territory, etc.[1].

[1]Annex I to this chapter includes a list with links to the official fees corresponding to the different types of rights for 2014.

Guide to business in Spain

Intellectual property law


ICEX - Gobierno de España - Ministerio de Economía y competitividad
Elaborado por Garrigues - Abogados y Asesores Tributarios
INVEST IN SPAIN. Paseo de la Castellana, 278. 28046 Madrid
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