PATENTS AND UTILITY MODELS
They protect investments in research and development
An invention can be, for example, a product, a process or an
apparatus. To be patentable, it must be new, industrially applicable and
involve an inventive step.
The owner of a patent has an exclusive right
to use his invention for a period of up to 20 years and the owner of an
utility model of up to 10 years, respectively. Nobody is authorised to make
use of this invention by manufacturing, offering, marketing or importing
protected products or using patented methods without prior approval of the
Patent and utility model protection can be obtained for
inventions in all fields of technology, but not for sole discoveries,
scientific theories, mathematical methods, plans, rules and methods for
performing mental acts, games, or business activities, e.g. organisational
In order to obtain patent or utility model protection for an
invention, an application must be filed at the German Patent and Trade Mark
Office (Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt) comprising detailed description of
the invention enabling a skilled person to understand and carry out the
invention. Examination for patentability is only performed, if a request for
examination is filed within 7 years from the date of application and the fee
is paid. Utility models are granted without substantive examination.
They protect investments in market reputation and marketing
Trade marks are signs for goods and services. They are used to distinguish
goods and services of a company from those of other companies. Trade marks
can be registered as a word or figurative mark, acoustic mark, three-dimensional
design, colour, or other signs, insofar as they can be graphically displayed.
The duration of trade mark protection is initially ten years, but can be
renewed as often as required.
Trade marks are registered provided there
are no absolute grounds for refusal. It is not possible to register signs or
indications which are merely descriptive of the kind, quality or other
properties and features of the goods or services applied for.
registration the owner of the trade mark is granted an exclusive right. A
trade mark allows the owner to prevent third parties from using identical or
similar signs for identical or similar goods or services and claim damages
and destruction, if applicable.
Third parties whose rights have an
earlier priority may object to the registration within a period of three
months following publication. If the opposition is successful, the later
trade mark will be cancelled.
They protect investments in design, models and molds
Design protection is effective from the date of registration and can be
maintained for a period of up to 25 years. Protection can be obtained for
shapes, patterns and/or colour configurations of products, e.g. textiles and
If a design is registered, the owner can prevent third parties
from producing, offering, marketing, importing, exporting, or using this
design without his prior approval.
The application for registration has
to include a photographic or graphical representation of the design. Up to
100 designs may be combined in one application provided that the designs can
be classified in at least one common class of goods.
can only be granted, if the design is new and has an individual character at
the time of the application. However, novelty and individual character are
not examined during entry of the designs in the register. In fact, the
requirements for protection are only evaluated during nullity proceedings
which everybody can initiate.
Infringement of rights
Any violation of the said protective rights shall be open to the enforcement
of claims for damages and injunctive legal action before the specialised
courts. Such a specialised court is the Mannheim Regional Court, which is
due to its relatively short duration of the procedure preferably selected
from international concerns.