National cooperation partners

Bereich DPMA

Overview National cooperation projects and User Advisory Council on Patents / Utility Models

With competent partners throughout Germany, the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) forms a network for intellectual property rights. Trade associations, chambers of industry and commerce, innovation-promoting universities and the customs authorities are active locally wherever companies – in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – and inventors have questions on the protection of their intellectual property.

cooperation, photo:

The patent information centres (PIZ) also make an extremely important contribution to this cooperation. They play an important role especially in supporting small and medium-sized enterprises. They offer services such as search support, commissioned searches, initial consultations for inventors and advice on strategic IP management, on IP portfolio analysis, on IP enforcement and on the defence against product piracy and provide information on intellectual property rights.

Locations of the patent information centres
Locations of the patent information centres
Locations of the German Patent and Trade Mark Office

In view of the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 was not an easy year for the PIZ either. That the PIZ were closed to visitors meant that services and advice were initially not offered at all or only to a very limited extent.

Where technically feasible, more and more advice was provided via the Internet. However, experience has showed that the online communication possibilities are not always an adequate replacement for close consultations and on-site searches supported by PIZ staff.

However, the PIZ are also constantly working to extend the online services they offer and to provide as many services as possible in a digital format.

The following changes were made to the PIZ last year:

  • As of 31 December 2020, the PIZ Kassel ceased its activities.
  • On 1 January 2021, the tasks of the former PIZ at the Hochschule Bremen (City University of Applied Sciences) were assumed by InnoWi GmbH. An interview with Dr Lieselotte Riegger, managing director of InnoWi GmbH, can be found here.

Further information on our national cooperation partners can be found on our website.

The User Advisory Council, established as a central advisory committee at the beginning of 2019, looks back on a successful first term of appointment. The committee, which is intended to define, bundle and discuss user needs concerning patents and utility models, held a total of four meetings. The fourth meeting, held in October 2020, was the first to be held in a virtual format due to the pandemic.

In August 2020, we evaluated the concept and structure of the activities of the committee and the way the committee was working in order to know about the participants’ experience from the first term of appointment and derive guidance as to how to shape the second term of appointment. In this context, the non-DPMA members emphasised the open, interactive dialogue on an equal footing with the staff of the DPMA, the direct communication with the office and the quick implementation of the results by qualified experts at the DPMA. The positive results of the evaluation encourage us to continue this form of dialogue with our customers. This has helped us move a step closer to our goal of having a better understanding of user needs and intensifying the dialogue with users.

We thank all those involved for the close and constructive cooperation in the past two years and are looking forward to further interesting discussions and suggestions in the second term of appointment.

Bereich DPMA

Briefly explained Attractive funding programmes for small and medium-sized enterprises

An important task of the patent information centres (PIZ), supported by the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA), is to provide small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with advice within the framework of funding programmes. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, funding becomes particularly important.

Screenshot information pages for SMEs
Our information pages for SMEs

European small and medium-sized enterprises (EU SMEs) are of vital importance for the European economy because they account for more than 99% of all European businesses and for 67% of the aggregate employment in the European Union. Innovation plays a key role in the EU SMEs, and intellectual property rights are an important tool to promote innovation.

Attractive grant schemes for the protection of intellectual property are provided by the German Länder, the federal government and at the European level. In a first step, many grant schemes support businesses in evaluating their specific IP situation. Accordingly, these subsidised IP scan services are suitable primarily for businesses that are just starting to deal with IP rights. Furthermore, grants for patent, utility model, trade mark and design applications and, in some cases, even for legal advice are available to SMEs that have experience of dealing with IP.

The President of the DPMA, Cornelia Rudloff-Schäffer, encourages SMEs to make use of grant schemes for the protection of intellectual property. “Intellectual property does not only represent innovative power, but it is also an asset small and medium-sized enterprises can benefit from strategically. Grant schemes are available. Make use of them, seek advice and apply for patents, utility models, trade marks and designs!”

The coronavirus pandemic has made support for SMEs even more important, as it has an impact on the competitive position of SMEs throughout Europe. To strengthen the competitiveness of the EU SMEs, the European Commission adopted an intellectual property action plan with the theme “Making the most of the EU’s innovative potential” (IP action plan) to support the EU’s recovery and resilience at the end of 2020. With this IP action plan, the Commission wants to improve the system for the protection of intellectual property and create incentives for the use and deployment of intellectual property, especially by SMEs.

In view of this, the European Commission, together with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), created an SME fund with a budget of 20 million euros for 2021 under Europe’s programme for the competitiveness of enterprises and SMEs (COSME). A number of EU SMEs that make use of IP pre-diagnostic services (IP scan) and/or want to protect their trade marks and designs directly by the national, regional and EU IP systems have already been provided financial support. The grant consists of a partial reimbursement of the costs for SMEs up to a maximum amount of 1,500 euros.

Information on this grant scheme is available on the website of EUIPO.

The German Patent and Trade Mark Office promotes this grant scheme in order to make it easier for German SMEs to access the available information and financial aid. For this purpose, we work closely with our regional partners.

Additional services to support SMEs in the field of intellectual property will successively be implemented under the EU programme for research and innovation (Horizon Europe) from 2021.

Further information on possible support for SMEs is available on the website of the DPMA.

Bereich DPMA

Interviews “We raise awareness and provide advice – from the idea to the product.”

Dr.-Ing. Jens Hoheisel, Birgit Funk, Dr Lieselotte Riegger, Natalia Tepe
The InnoWi GmbH team (from left to right): Dr.-Ing. Jens Hoheisel, Birgit Funk, Dr Lieselotte Riegger, Natalia Tepe

Dr Lieselotte Riegger, managing director of InnoWi GmbH and head of the patent information centre PIZ Bremen on the innovative potential in the Hanseatic city, the service of patent information centres and cooperation with the DPMA

At the end of 2020, InnoWi GmbH took over the patent information centre PIZ Bremen. What plans do you have?

As the central IP advisory centre in the federal Land of Bremen, we want to help all those who have good ideas and want to put them into practice. These are primarily enterprises, start-ups, scientists, but also independent inventors. We aim to provide each target group with the support they need to protect their ideas and products. My co-managing director, Dr Jens Hoheisel, and the entire InnoWi team have specialised in IP rights as well as invention matters and patent exploitation for years. Based on this experience, we want to work together with the various institutions in the federal Land of Bremen to protect and promote innovations in the region. Our support options are still little known among companies as we have so far mainly provided services to universities. Therefore, an important step is the expansion of cooperation projects and joint activities with the economic institutions and supporters in the federal Land and the region. Bremen is known for its short distances and we want to make use of that. The aim is to support those seeking advice as quickly, effectively and efficiently as possible.

Screw studs, decaffeination, vehicle construction – well-known inventions come from Bremen. What do you think of the innovative capacity in your region today?

Industry in the federal Land of Bremen is shaped by its Hanseatic history. But the picture has changed. While the shipbuilding and the steel industry have declined substantially, new companies have emerged, especially in the aerospace, wind technology and high-tech sectors. Bremen is the fifth largest industrial location in Germany; its innovative capacity is enormous and will continue to increase. A contributing factor is also the high concentration of universities and science institutes and their proximity to enterprises.

In relation to its population, Bremen is in the midfield among the federal Länder in terms of patent applications. If you consider that companies such as Daimler, Airbus, etc. have a large site in Bremen but not their headquarters and that therefore their patents are not counted, then the situation looks even better. And in terms of trade mark applications, Bremen can also keep up well, ranking fifth in relation to the size of the population.

Nevertheless, much potential remains to be tapped – especially in the start-up scene, which is very active and successful in Bremen.

You are a GmbH (limited liability company) with the Bremen universities as shareholders. What does that mean for your work?

InnoWi is a university company (Hochschulgesellschaft) of the four Bremen universities with the federal Land of Bremen as founding shareholder and funding body. Founded in 2001, its primary task has been to tap, protect and exploit the inventive potential of Bremen universities. Since then, our innovation managers have assessed and advised on more than 1,000 inventions and 400 patent applications. Our work has contributed to achieving that more than one third of the patent applications in the federal Land of Bremen is accounted for by universities and institutes. Now, our many years of experience form the basis of the advisory service for enterprises. By concentrating expertise and authority in one organisation, the shareholders and the federal Land of Bremen expect to produce synergistic effects that will stimulate the development of innovations in science and industry.

What specific services do you have to offer your customers?

One of our most important tasks is to provide IP information. Regular events and face-to-face consultations are the cornerstones of the services we offer. For companies, we provide in-house training as well as introductory courses on patent searches.

If someone has a concrete idea, we assist in the search and evaluation of the search results. This applies to trade marks, designs as well as patents. If someone has applied for a patent, we offer patent and cost management. As regards university inventions, patenting is followed by the marketing of patents, ranging from looking for suitable licensees to concluding the contract.

We also assist in applying for funding for IP applications, for example with the federal WIPANO programme. In short, we provide information, raise awareness, give advice and support — from the idea to the product.

How does the DPMA assist you in your work?

The DPMA provides the basis for our work. The information and services concerning IP rights are very comprehensive and well edited and we use them on a daily basis. Through this cooperation, we also have access to specific training courses and seminars. It is particularly important for us to communicate with the other patent information centres. Without this support, we would probably not have managed to set up a new patent and trade mark centre during the coronavirus pandemic. At any rate, we are looking forward to further cooperation.

What projects are planned for the near future?

One of the most important projects in the near future is the expansion of our information system, ranging from information on IP rights to “how to” videos to our support services. Since we are not yet able to open our search room, we intend to increasingly rely on online consultation. This is already working very well and even has advantages. Together with the person seeking advice we can conduct a joint search on a shared screen and the results are available immediately. However, we also look forward to meeting people face to face again soon!

This year we will also strengthen the field of trade marks. We have some further training courses scheduled in this field.

We are planning to participate in the World IP Day on 26 April 2021, with its theme of “IP & SMEs: Taking your ideas to market”, by organising activities in Bremen. The DPMA and WIPO have made very good preparations for that event. These include an app, among other things, showing dates and training opportunities for SMEs and videos presenting our centre and our services. As a new patent information centre, this is a good opportunity for us to become more visible.