When is an agent required?
Generally speaking, an applicant may themself file a patent application with the DPMA. The following particulars should be observed:
German nationals/persons resident inside Germany
Applicants may call on assistance from advisors experienced in the field of industrial property and authorised to act as legal advisors (lawyer, patent attorney or holder of certificate of representation). These advisors may represent the applicant in the grant procedure.
Foreign nationals/persons resident outside Germany
Applicants having neither a residence nor a principal place of business nor an establishment in the Federal Republic of Germany must appoint (even if they are German citizens) a patent attorney or a lawyer in Germany as representative who is authorised to represent them in proceedings before the German Patent and Trade Mark Office, before the Federal Patent Court and in civil litigation affecting the patent, as well as to file an application for criminal prosecution (Sec. 25(1) Patent Act [Patentgesetz], Sec. 28(1) Utility Model Act [Gebrauchsmustergesetz], Sec. 96(1) Trade Mark Act [Markengesetz], Sec. 58(1) Design Act [Designgesetz]).
Find information also in the leaflets Information for Patent, Utility Model, Trade Marks and Design Applicants.
Power of attorney
A written authorisation must be submitted to the DPMA only if the representative is not a patent attorney, lawyer, holder of a certificate of representation or, if Section 155 of the Patent Attorney Code (Patentanwaltsordnung) is applicable, a patent agent. The person acting as attorney must have the capacity to sue and be sued; and the power of attorney must be executed in favour of a person using their civil name. It is also possible to appoint an association of representatives by indicating the name of this association. If the grantor of a power of attorney is not a natural person the signatory of the authorisation has to prove convincingly their entitlement to sign the authorisation by indicating their position or subjoining suitable other means of proof. In case of doubt, the DPMA requests that proof is furnished under notarial authentication.
If the applicant has filed several applications and wishes to be represented in all cases by the same representative, they may either grant a general power of attorney for all procedures before the DPMA or an individual power of attorney for each procedure. An enterprise may grant a general employee’s power of attorney to an employee authorising them to represent their employer in all patent affairs before the DPMA. The general powers of attorney are registered at the DPMA under an administrative number.
Find the forms on the website Other forms.
Representation according to the Act on the Activities of European Patent Attorneys in Germany
Representation is also possible through lawyers or patent attorneys from a member state of the European Union, a contracting party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area or Switzerland if they are authorised and empowered to represent applicants in proceedings before the German Patent and Trade Mark Office, the Federal Patent Court and in civil litigation affecting a patent, as well as to file motions for criminal prosecution. The authorisation is subject to relevant provisions governing admission to the profession of lawyer or patent attorney as well as to the provisions concerning temporary provision of services (cf. Act on the Activities of European Lawyers in Germany [Gesetz über die Tätigkeit europäischer Rechtsanwälte in Deutschland] and the Act on the Activities of European Patent Attorneys in Germany [Gesetz über die Tätigkeit europäischer Patentanwälte in Deutschland] as well as the Federal Lawyers' Act [Bundesrechtsanwaltsordnung] and Patent Attorney Code). Also admitted are European patent attorneys who are either active as admitted patent attorneys (Secs. 1, 12 Act on the Activities of European Patent Attorneys in Germany) or as patent attorneys providing services (Sec. 13 Act on the Activities of European Patent Attorneys in Germany). The chambers of lawyers or the Chamber of Patent Attorneys decide on the type and scope of the admissible activities of European lawyers and patent attorneys. The chambers publish in publicly accessible registers which European lawyers (with the exception of lawyers providing services and in-house lawyers) or patent attorneys are admitted to be active in Germany.
- Official Register of Lawyers of the German Federal Bar
- Official register of patent attorneys
- Register of patent attorneys providing services (in German)
The DPMA may review the authorisation of the empowered lawyer or patent attorney of the applicant having neither a residence nor principal place of business nor an establishment in Germany during IP proceedings, particularly based on the publications by the chambers.
If an applicant having neither a residence nor principal place of business nor an establishment in Germany does not appoint a person authorised to accept service resident in Germany, service is effected by registered letter in proceedings before the DPMA (Sec. 94(1) no. 1 Trade Mark Act, Sec. 127(1) no. 2 Patent Act in conjunction with Secs. 21(1) Utility Model Act, 23(4), fourth sentence, Design Act).
The list of professional titles which are comparable to German attorneys-at-law can be consulted here: Gesetze im Internet.
Last updated: 5 December 2019