Intangible assets, such as copyrights, patents, designs or trademarks, play a critical role in today's economy. While in the past, large amounts were invested in plants and machinery, companies now invest mainly in Research and Development (R&D), software and information technology, human resources and advertising. As a result, an increasing share of corporate market value is generated from intellectual property rights (IPR), which has become a major driver of economic development. Protect the fruit of your innovation and research efforts through intellectual property rights!
Luxembourg stands out because of a combination of a unique series of assets:
An IP-conscious government
Luxembourg has been proactive in developing its IP standards and participates in all the major IP treaties and conventions, including the Bern Convention, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the Paris Convention and the Patent Law Treaty (PLT), as well as the Madrid Agreement and Protocol. The country is also a signatory of the European Patent Convention, which was set up by the European Patent Office (EPO).
Luxembourg’s authorities have created a safe IP environment by implementing EU directives as well as international agreements and treaties, such as the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to secure IP rights.
A favourable tax and legal environment
Given that intellectual property is essential to any innovative company, Luxembourg has strengthened its appeal on intellectual property and research, development and innovation (RDI).
Net income from the exploitation of patents, trademarks, designs, copyrights on software or domain names acquired or created after December 31, 2007 receive a tax exemption of 80% under certain conditions. This may apply also for deemed IP-income if the IP is created for a company’s own use. Capital gains realised on the sale of intellectual property also benefit from this tax system.
Furthermore, on 1st January 2009, net wealth tax was abolished on qualifying IP. From an RDI point of view, the law of 5 June 2009 relating to the promotion of research, development and innovation provides the framework for a financial aid scheme that contributes to the costs linked to the protection of technical industrial property.
UPDATE (3/1/2017): The law on exemption was repealed in July 2016. Transitional arrangements for intellectual property rights created or acquired before that time are in effect. Note that the benefits from this transitional provision no longer apply after 31 December 2016. Please refer to the legal text (Art. 5. Régime fiscal de la propriété intellectuelle, pp 5388).
A favourable framework for the protection of creations through intellectual property rights
Intellectual property is composed of two parts:
- literary and artistic property (copyright and related rights) and
- industrial property (patents, trademarks, drawings and models).
Literary and artistic property
Regarding literary and artistic property, no formalities are required in order for an author's creation to be protected. The law of 18 April 2001 on copyright, related rights and databases provides the legal framework applicable to literary and artistic property. These rights are an important factor for innovation and competitiveness, and particular attention is given to them in order to ensure balanced protection to rights holders.
You can find more information on the protection of literary and artistic works on the website of the Ministry of Economy.
In Luxembourg, as far as industrial property is concerned, the legal framework allows for multiple types of patents.
- A national patent application may be submitted to the Office of Intellectual Property of the Ministry of Economy.
- A European patent application may also be introduced, at the applicant's choice, at the European Patent Office.
- The applicant may make an application for an international patent at the World Intellectual Property Organization in the context of the patent co-operation treaty (PCT).
You can find more information on patent protection on the Portal of Innovation and Research.
Concerning trademarks or designs, the protection is not only national but also covers Belgium and the Netherlands, because Luxembourg is part of the Benelux Intellectual Property Organization. Applications can be made online at the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP), the official body responsible for registering trademarks and designs in the Benelux.