Describing the invention clearly and precisely
What you should know in advance: the patent system is a very large and complex legal field. Therefore, it can be of benefit to appoint a patent attorney or lawyer for your patent application. If you are not resident in Germany, you need a patent attorney or lawyer for legal reasons.
An invention must be disclosed in the application documents in a manner sufficiently clear and complete for it to be carried out easily by a person skilled in the art. It is therefore not sufficient to just completely fill in the application form.
Your patent application must also include:
- a technical description of the invention (including a list of reference signs, if need be)
- patent claims
- drawings if you deem them necessary
- an abstract
- the designation of the inventor
The most important links concerning patent applications
The technical description, the patent claims and, if need be, the drawings must be filed together with the application. The abstract and the designation of the inventor can also be subsequently filed within 15 months from the date of filing the application.
You must describe (disclose) your invention completely when filing your application because subsequent extension of the technical information is not admissible.
However, you have one year counted from the date of filing to add further details or even a further development of your original invention by claiming "internal priority".
Important information: think through your patent claims
The patent claims are very important for your patent application. They define the scope of protection of your patent. You should therefore draft them very precisely; all technical features to be protected must be exactly named in the claims. For examples of how to draft patent claims, please refer to the Information for Patent Applicants leaflet.
Documents and information
If you do not want to make use of the e-filing option:
Please use form P 2007 (in German) for your application. If you need help with your patent application, please refer to the "Information for Patent Applicants" leaflet. The formal requirements are listed in the Patent Ordinance (Patentverordnung).
The documents must be submitted in the German language. If the application is submitted in English or French, the translation must be submitted within twelve months from the date of filing, however, at the latest, within 15 months from the priority date. If the application is submitted in a language other than German, English or French, the translation must be submitted within three months from the date of filing.
Please note that the application fee must be paid in due time (within three months from the date of filing). Otherwise, your application will be deemed withdrawn.
Where can I file the patent application?
Please send the application to the German Patent and Trade Mark Office in Munich. You can also hand in your application in person at the offices in Munich, Jena and Berlin. Likewise, some patent information centres accept patent applications and forward them to the DPMA.
Should you still have any questions concerning patent applications, our enquiry units in Munich, Jena and Berlin as well as the patent information centres will be glad to help you. You can also register for a free-of-charge initial consultation for inventors at our enquiry units in Munich and Berlin. This is also possible at the patent information centres in your region.
E-filing of patent applications
You can also file your patent application online with the DPMA. This requires a signature card with the corresponding card reader. A list of suppliers of signature cards is available from the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Railway).
Very important: the date of filing!
The date on which your application has been received is deemed your date of filing – a very important date. Among other things, it determines that applications which are filed later pertaining to the same or a similar invention of competitors cannot lead to patents being granted. At the same time, the date of filing is the priority date of your future patent – playing a significant role for subsequent applications and patent protection outside Germany.
And never forget: pay your fees in due time
A few more words on the costs: the patent application and the examination request are subject to fees. In addition, an annual renewal fee must be paid beginning with the third year of protection in order to maintain patent protection. It is important to pay all fees due in good time and in full. Otherwise, you risk losing your IP right. For more information, please refer to the Fees section.
Might it be that my invention is a state secret?
Inventions from particular fields of technology (for example, weapons technology or nuclear technology) might constitute state secrets. We have compiled more information about the protection of secrecy in an information leaflet (in German).
Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH) pilot
The Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH) is a multilateral pilot programme, in which all national and regional patent offices can take part. Currently, there are 24 patent authorities involved in the GPPH (status: 6 July 2017).
Within the framework of the GPPH, a PPH request based on a work product of a participating office may be filed with any other office involved in the GPPH. The requests can be made under the same requirements for all patent authorities. This harmonisation makes use of the PPH easier and thus more attractive for the applicants.
For detailed information about the PPH, please go here.
Picture 1: iStock.com/NicoElNino, Picture 2: iStock.com/nongkran_ch
Last updated: 18/02/19