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Design searches

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What is the purpose of the search?

Before filing a design application, you should gain information on the existing pool of design creations and perform a search for prior registered designs. The search for registered designs in the DPMAregister Internet service and other platforms helps you to find out if your design meets the requirements for protection, “novelty” and “individual character”, or possibly infringes earlier rights. Before registration of the design, the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) does not examine whether these requirements for protection are met or whether similar or identical designs are already registered. A possible collision with earlier IP rights will only be determined in the case of a dispute by the civil courts or during invalidity proceedings before the DPMA.

To be able to effectively defend your design, you should conduct regular searches and observe the market also after the registration of your design.

How to find the right strategy for your search

All industrial or handicraft items which are used in trade or which, for example, were exhibited on a trade fair can conflict with the protection of your registered design. Before filing an application, you should also search for identical or similar designs in the DPMAregister Internet service and the databases of other patent offices. Furthermore, you should expand your search to Internet search engines, fair catalogues, product directories or trade platforms on the Internet. The regional patent information centres, patent attorneys and IP lawyers will provide assistance to you before you file a design application to help you find the right search strategy or they will conduct such a design search for you.

Search in the databases of the DPMA

Information brochure

pdf-Datei Design searches online

In the official register, DPMAregister, you can conduct free searches for publication data, representations of the images and for legal (procedural) status information of registered designs. It provides the weekly published Design Gazette (Designblatt) for download (in German).

The Beginner's mode allows to carry out basic searches within the most frequently used search fields, for example, “register number”, “owner”, “description/products”, “class of goods”.

Search also in international databases

Community designs of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) or international registrations of designs of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) might also conflict with your German design. That is why you should also search the following databases:

The design classification will be useful when you conduct a search.

Using classification symbols (for example, 12-08 for "motor cars, buses and lorries") will enable you to conduct a language-independent and systematic search. The "International Classification for Industrial Designs under the Locarno Agreement" classifies goods in certain classes and subclasses. Equivalent designs will consistently be attributed to a concrete class of goods.

The eleventh edition of the Locarno Classification has been in force since 1 January 2017.

Are there still any questions?

  • Please contact the central Customer Care and Services of the DPMA (phone: +49 89 2195-1000).
  • The "search support" database hotline (phone: +49 89 2195-3435) will be pleased to answer your questions on searches.
  • Expert staff provide assistance in the search rooms of the DPMA in Munich and Berlin, where, the complete services offered by the DPMA are available to you.
  • The patent information centres (Patentinformationszentren) also provide expert assistance to you.

You will find commercial information brokers and patent search agents who offer design searches via all major Internet search engines.

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Picture: iStock.com/narvikk

Last updated: 12/12/17 

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