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Employee inventions

The distinction between employee invention and independent invention is of key importance to university employees and universities.
Employee inventions can only be made within the scope of an employment. Any person who is not (or no longer) employed at a university, for example, as a university teacher, employee or worker cannot make an employee invention in relation to the university. Students as such are not employed at a university. However, if the students also work as research assistants in parallel to their studies, they are employed at the university. The same applies to postgraduates: the mere academic supervision of their doctoral theses does not turn them into employees, but an employment (also part-time) at the institute of their doctoral supervisor does. Likewise, visiting researchers do usually not have an employment contract with the host university.

European Patent Convention (EPC)

The Convention on the Grant of European Patents is an international agreement setting out rules for the grant of European patents.

European Patent Office (EPO)

The EPO grants patents, based on a centralised procedure, that are valid within all or individually designated EPC member states. By filing a single European patent application it is possible to obtain patent protection in several or all EPC member states. The patent application is centrally examined at the European Patent Office. After grant, a European patent is treated as a national patent in each country of validation.

European Patent Organisation

The European Patent Organisation is an intergovernmental organisation, based on the EPC, whose members are the EPC contracting states.

EUIPO

The European Union Intellectual Property Office registers and manages Union trade marks and Community designs that are valid in the European Union.
EUIPO is a legally, organisationally and financially independent institution of the European Union (EU agency), based in Alicante, Spain. EUIPO has about 700 staff.

Examination request (patent)

A patent can only be granted if the invention is found to be patentable. The relevant examination is carried out upon request only. The request for examination can be filed by the applicant or a third party within a period of seven years from the filing date.

Federal Patent Court (Bundespatentgericht)

The Federal Patent Court was founded in 1961. It is based in Munich. The court deals with disputes in the area of industrial property protection, for example, appeals from decisions of the examining sections and divisions of the German Patent and Trade Mark Office as well as on actions for the declaration of the nullity of a patent and compulsory licence proceedings. It is a court of ordinary jurisdiction. It comes under the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, like the DPMA and Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice).

Filing date

Figurative mark

Figurative marks are pictures, graphical elements or images (without words or word elements).

Exhibition priority

  • Utility models (Sec. 6a Utility Model Act [Gebrauchsmustergesetz])
If you have displayed your invention at a trade fair or exhibition and subsequently apply for a utility model for it, the subject matter of the invention is no longer new. Thus, the utility model no longer fulfils one of the most important requirements for a valid IP right. However, the prior publication of the invention is not prejudicial to novelty if the utility model application is filed within a period of six months.
For this application you can claim what is known as exhibition priority. The date of the first publication then determines the priority date of the application. The date of the first display and the name of the exhibition must be indicated. A further requirement is a certificate issued during the exhibition by the organisation responsible for the protection of intellectual property at that exhibition.
Exhibition priority can only be claimed for exhibitions which have been published in the Federal Gazette by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection – to be found on the home page of the Federal Gazette (Bundesanzeiger) in the search box under the keyword "Ausstellungsschutz" (exhibition protection).

  • Trade marks (Sec. 35 Trade Mark Act [Markengesetz])
The display of goods/services at trade fairs and exhibitions may give rise to the priority of a subsequent application. In this respect, only those events will be considered that have been published by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection in the Federal Gazette (Bundesanzeiger).
The application must be filed within six months after the event. Within two months after the filing date, the applicant must claim priority and name the date of the first display and the event. In particular, please indicate the name and location of the exhibition or trade fair in question and the date on which the goods or services under the trade mark applied for were first displayed. For this purpose, you can use the relevant certificate form Ausstellungsbescheinigung (W 7708) (in German) of the DPMA. This certificate, signed/stamped by the exhibition management or the organisation responsible for the protection of intellectual property during the exhibition, can still be provided within a period of two months after the filing of the trade mark application. As a rule, the furnishing of the stand invoice and of trade fair documents/brochures also constitutes proof of the display of the goods/services at a trade fair.

  • Designs (Sec. 15 Design Act [Designgesetz])
If you have displayed a product with a new design at a domestic or foreign exhibition, you may, under certain conditions, claim a right of priority for your design application from that date. For this purpose, you must file the application with the DPMA within a period of six months from the date of the first display. You can claim an exhibition priority for those exhibitions that have been published by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection in the Federal Gazette (Bundesanzeiger). The certificate form Ausstellungsbescheinigung (R 5708) (in German) must be used to prove the display. The certificate must contain, in addition to other information, an image of the design disclosed; up to ten images per certificate may be furnished. The indications on the form – including the image(s) – must be confirmed during the exhibition by the organisation responsible for the protection of intellectual property at that exhibition.
It is important that you actually apply for your design as shown on the images in the certificate. If you do not claim priority for all designs in a multiple application, please attribute the priority indications to the corresponding designs. If you show your product only to selected business partners, this does not constitute sufficient display for an exhibition priority.

Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs

Agreement concerning the registration of designs with international effect. Presently, a total of 60 countries are party to the various Acts of the Hague Agreement, including Germany, France and also the European Union; the USA, Japan and the United Kingdom a.o. are not party to this agreement. The Locarno Classification sets out the classification for designs applied for.

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Last updated: 23/10/18 

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