bar chart: Registered designs at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office 2018-2022

Year Registered designs
2018 47,647
2019 41,145
2020 37,130
2021 31,083
2022 36,251
Registered designs at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office

Last year, there was again a decline in design applications.

In 2022, 33,652 designs were applied for at the DPMA, in 3,833 individual and multiple applications. This means that, compared to the previous year, the number of designs applied for and the number of applications dropped by 9.6% and 33.2%, respectively. By contrast, the number of registrations increased considerably: The Design Unit entered 36,251 designs in the design register (+16.6%); this amounts to 90.9% of the completed procedures (2021: 90.2%). Last year, we conclusively processed a total of 39,866 requests for entry in the register.

Our applicants again made extensive use of the option to combine up to 100 designs in a multiple application: In 2022, well over half of the applicants (68.8%) took up this offer. On average, about twelve designs were filed in a multiple application. Since 2 November 2021, it has been possible to combine up to 20 designs in multiple applications filed electronically via DPMAdirektWeb (previously up to 10 designs). In total, this option was used for 531 applications.

Applicants can request not to publish the representations of a registered design (known as the deferment of publication of the representation). Thanks to a reduced application fee, they save costs. However, during that time, they only enjoy protection against copying of a design that has been put on the market by somebody who had knowledge of the design concerned. Additionally, in that case, design protection ends after 30 months from the filing or priority date, unless it is extended to full protection by payment of the extension fee, which implies a request for publication of the representation. The proportion of designs applied for with a request for deferment of publication of the representation increased slightly to 20.9% (2021: 19.2%).

Last year, we conclusively processed a total of 39,866 requests for entry in the register. The Design Unit entered 36,251 of these designs in the design register; this amounts to 90.9% of the completed procedures (2021: 90.2%).

At the end of 2022, 260,387 designs were registered in our design register.

With 94.2%, most of the designs registered at the DPMA last year originated again from Germany. They were filed by applicants having a domicile or principal place of business in Germany. That means that the total proportion of applications filed by applicants from abroad continued to decrease. A total of 1,785 designs applied for came from other European countries (2021: 2,385), 334 from non-European countries (2021: 375). In 2022, most foreign registered designs originated once again from Switzerland (923 registered designs).

Registered designs in 2022 by countries of origin
countries of originRegistered designsPercentage
Germany 34,132 94.2
Switzerland 923 2.5
Austria 210 0.6
Italy 201 0.6
USA 135 0.4
Poland 124 0.3
China 109 0.3
Czech Republic 101 0.3
Cyprus 87 0.2
Taiwan 42 0.1
Others 187 0.5
Total 36,251100

With 31.0%, most of the 34,132 domestic designs registered in 2022 came from North Rhine-Westphalia (10,581 registered designs). For 14 years in a row, North Rhine-Westphalia has been at the top of the list of the German Länder. In 2022, it was followed by Baden-Württemberg with 5,868 registered designs (17.2%) and Bavaria with 5,227 registered designs (15.3%).

If the cursor is moved over the chart, it shows the design applications in 2022 and the applications per 100,000 inhabitants as well as the change in percent per German Länder (residence or principal place of business of the applicant).

Registered designs by German Länder Map Germany Munich Jena Berlin Hesse 1,511 +11.8 % 24/100,000 inhabitants Hamburg 681 -5.3 % 37/100,000 inhabitants Bremen 185 +37.0 % 27/100,000 inhabitants Brandenburg 277 +84.7 % 11/100,000 inhabitants Berlin 2,362 +26.0 % 64/100,000 inhabitants Bavaria 5,227 +7.7 % 40/100,000 inhabitants Baden-Württemberg 5,868 +20.5 % 53/100,000 inhabitants Lower Saxony 2,670 +54.4 % 33/100,000 inhabitants North Rhine-Westphalia 10,581 +15.4 % 59/100,000 inhabitants Schleswig-Holstein 788 -14.8 % 27/100,000 inhabitants Saxony 903 -5.2 % 22/100,000 inhabitants Saxony-Anhalt 244 +10.9 % 11/100,000 inhabitants Saarland 110 -4.3 % 11/100,000 inhabitants Rhineland-Palatinate 2,089 +124.6 % 51/100,000 inhabitants Thuringia 548 +183.9 % 26/100,000 inhabitants Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania 88 -34.3 % 5/100,000 inhabitants
Registered designs per 100,000 in 2022, broken down by German Land (residence or principal place of business of the owner)

bar chart: Registered designs by German Länder in 2022 per 100,000 inhabitants

German Länder Registered designs per 100,000 inhabitants
Berlin 64
North Rhine-Westphalia 59
Baden-Württemberg 53
Rhineland-Palatinate 51
Bavaria 40
Hamburg 37
Lower Saxony 33
Schleswig-Holstein 27
Bremen 27
Thuringia 26
Hesse 24
Saxony 22
Saxony-Anhalt 11
Brandenburg 11
Saarland 11
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania 5
Germany 41

In 2022, most designs (9,047 designs, i.e. 15.0%) were again registered in the class of goods 6 (furnishing). The class of goods 2 (articles of clothing and haberdashery) came in second with 12.3%, followed by the class of goods 32 (graphic symbols and logos, surface patterns, ornamentation) with 10.6%. In total, the 36,251 designs were registered in 60,459 classes of goods. The top classes of goods are shown in the figure “Top 5 Classes of goods”.

Top 5 Classes of goods 
Classes of goods of registered designs * at the DPMA in 2022
(* A design can be attributed to several classes of goods.)

Bar chart: Classes of goods of registered designs  at the DPMA in 2022. Top 5 Classes of goods.

ClassesRegistered designsChange compared to 2021
Cl. 6 Furnishing 9,047 +10.4
Cl. 2 Articles of clothing and haberdashery 7,455 +39.5
Cl. 32 Graphic symbols and logos, surface patterns, ornamentatio 6,383 +26.6
Cl. 26 Lighting apparatus 5,643 +39.9
Cl. 7 Household goods 4,221 +48.3

A registered design may enjoy protection for a maximum period of 25 years from the filing date. Changes of the register entry may be effected by various procedures during that period:

  • Renewal or cancellation
    A term of protection is five years. Renewal fees must be paid at the end of each term to renew protection. Unless renewed, design protection will lapse. An appropriate comment concerning the registered design will then be made in the register.
  • Extension
    If a design was initially registered only for a 30-month period of protection from the filing or priority date, deferring publication of the representation, the owner of the registered design may pay a fee to extend the period of protection to the first five years after the filing date. In this case, a comment concerning the extension will be made in the design register and the representations of the design will be published.
  • Recording of changes
    We will record a change to an IP right in the register if, for example, it is transferred from the owner to another person or there is a change of representative.

In 2022, 36 applications for determination or declaration of invalidity were filed (2021: 19). The application for determination or declaration of invalidity will be served on the owner of the challenged design after receipt of a fee of 300 euros and examination of further admissibility requirements. If the application is not contested within one month, invalidity shall be determined or declared by decision of the Design Division without further substantive examination and the design in question will be cancelled in the design register after the decision has become final. If the application is contested in due time, the Design Division will conduct an official examination of the grounds of invalidity (the appearance of the product does not constitute a design, lack of novelty or individual character; exclusion from design protection; earlier conflicting rights). Subsequently, the Design Division will take a decision in proceedings that — also with regard to the costs to be borne — are essentially based on the Code of Civil Procedure (Zivilprozessordnung). In 2022, a total of 23 design invalidity proceedings were concluded (2021: 28).

50 years ago Otl Aicher's iconic pictograms for the 1972 Summer Olympics

In 1972, Munich hosted the Olympic Summer Games. The buildings for this major event still shape the cityscape of Munich today. Several congenial contributions transformed the Olympics into a unique synthesis of the arts: Frei Otto's ingenious tent roof construction spanning above the sports facilities conceived by Günther Behnisch located in the Olympic Park, which Günther Grzimek designed as an open landscape garden and where Otl Aicher's pictograms served as universally comprehensible guidance system.

When Munich was selected as the host city for the Olympic Games in 1966, one thing was clear from the very beginning: The event was supposed to be completely different from the last Olympics in Germany. The 1936 Games in Berlin had been used by the Nazi regime for propagandistic self-staging purposes. Now, a new democratic, cosmopolitan (West) Germany was to be presented to the world in order to host “cheerful” Games full of ease and light-heartedness.

In this context, it was a great moment on 13 October 1967, when the committee, including young mayor Hans-Jochen Vogel, decided in favour of the courageous design of architect Günther Behnisch’s team. The core element, a huge tent roof made of acrylic glass, was a sensation because of its stable and aesthetic structure. Frei Otto, the mastermind behind this construction, was the pioneer of a biomorphic structural form of curved, airy roofs. Thanks not least to the Olympic site, he is considered one of the most influential architects of the 20th century.

In order to make it easier for the athletes from all over the world to find their way to the sports facilities, a unique guidance system featuring a colour code and pictograms was created. Graphic designer Otto “Otl” Aicher was responsible for the overall appearance of the Olympics.

Otl Aicher (1922-1991) played a key role at the influential Ulm School of Design. His pictograms, which became the actual symbol of the 1972 Olympic Games, are easily understandable to the general public. They are considered a universal design classic transcending language and cultural boundaries. Otl Aicher’s sign language became world-famous and, for a long time, has been part of mankind's collective visual memory.

Otl Aicher, too, wanted to clearly distance himself and his design from the aesthetics of 1936 (by the way, he was married to Inge Scholl, the older sister of resistance fighters Hans and Sophie Scholl). With his colour scheme for the Munich Games, he avoided the colours preferred by the Nazi regime (black, brown and red). Instead, he chose light blue as the main colour, complemented by silver, white, orange and light green. From the posters to the guidance system to the helpers’ clothing – the colour scheme was applied to all materials in use. Otl Aicher wisely chose Univers as the overall font. Later, he developed his own font, Rotis, named after his place of residence.

To this day, the Olympic facilities reflect the spirit of light-heartedness and cheerfulness of the time when they were designed. According to the Munich-based German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, they represent "the actual landmark of the Federal Republic of Germany". Munich is committed to having the venue selected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. This could become a reality in a few years. Otl Aicher, Frei Otto and their fellows would certainly be very proud.

Point of view Good design: link and sales machine

With her sustainable, high-quality grill (Knister Grill), she was a finalist of the DesignEuropa Awards 2021: Industrial designer and entrepreneur Carolin Kunert talks to us about the importance of design for the business model, the advantages of registered IP rights and the challenges small businesses face in claiming them.

Carolin Kunert, Photo: Heike Heller
Only getting started: Carolin Kunert and her “Knister Grill

Today more than ever, design is a decisive factor in any business model across sectors. It has long become much more than a clever and appealing layout of digital and analogue “surfaces”. Designers communicate between users and developers as well as producers. If used properly, design is, above all else, a sales machine.

Design covers much more than pure functionality or the brand representation of a product. It can add values and emotions to a product. Design is communication with buyers, creating links. Long-term and scalable sales of a product or service are impossible without a global approach to design. Therefore, reducing a designers’ activities to making products prettier means to waste precious know how and resources of the company.

During my studies in industrial design, I learned, first and foremost, to perceive and understand people, the environment and by extension the clients in depth. To question what is established, to find new solutions step by step, time and again, to test prototypes on users. Designers’ work, i.e., the value of design in the business model, is a crucial factor for the success of a company.

The benefits of IP rights in meetings with investors

In my opinion, design is also underestimated when it comes to the valuation of IP rights. My company holds a patent, a design and an EU trade mark. But externally, the patent is always considered more valuable than the registered design. Taking into account the sometimes very limited scopes of protection for specific inventions, I do not think that is accurate.

In our day-to-day business, we benefit from our three registered IP rights mainly when we are in touch with investors, potential licensees and corporate clients. Even though the scope of protection of a patent is rarely questioned, it is referred to as a seal of quality: Without a patent, there will be no meetings with investors, and therefore no further growth.

IP rights are also important for online trade. Big online platforms require proof of a registered trade mark, and the registration ensures that no other merchant can place advertisements using the name of our trade mark. But despite all chances that IP rights entail, they also come with a challenge, in particular for young companies: claiming them.

Luckily, we have not had any problems with product or trade mark copying or anything in that vein since our company was founded. But I did wonder how I, as managing director, would be able to claim our rights as a relatively small company, if, for instance, a big discounter chain was to launch a copy of the “Knister Grill”. IP right procedures can often go on for years and entail substantial costs. That can quickly destabilize a young company.

It is risky business to rely only on the value of registered IP rights. For us, too, it is most likely only a matter of time until a copy shows up. That is why we also invest a lot of resources to make our trade mark and product widely known in order to prevent that a low-cost copy will become established at all.

But at the same time, we are already taking strategic preventive action today. We are working on launching a reduced version of the grill as white-label product in order to tap into another market segment. If you are clever about it, then achieving a high turnover in the low-price range segment and making the main product of the trade mark more widely known are possible at the same time. In other words, our means of self-protection is also copying ourselves before anyone else does it.