Servicenavigation und Suchfeld



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Nice Classification

Nice Classification is short for “International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks”. The name derives from the agreement concluded at the diplomatic conference of Nice on 15 June 1957, stipulating the establishment of the classification. Its 45 classes (34 for goods and eleven for services) contain all standardised and admissible terms necessary for the list of goods and services of an application. The classes of goods are roughly divided into product groups and material groups; the classes of services are divided into branches of activities.


If the trade mark is not put to actual use within a period of five years from the date of registration in the Register, it may be cancelled. This compulsory use means that the trade mark must be put to genuine use in Germany by the trade mark owners for identifying their goods and ervices in trade.


Novelty is one of the requirements for the grant of a patent. An invention is deemed to be new if it is not comprised in the state of the art. This means that the invention must not have been made public, by word of mouth or written publication, before the date of filing of the patent application.


A patent can be declared invalid by a ruling of the Federal Patent Court.


The grant of a patent can be challenged by means of an opposition. Anybody can file an opposition within three months from the publication of a patent.

Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property

International agreement to harmonise the requirements for the protection of industrial property as well as the claims to and the rights derived from IP titles. The Paris Convention provides for a priority period of 12 months from the date of filing for patent applications, and of 6 months for trade mark applications. The Patent Cooperation Treaty and the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks are among the treaties adopted within the framework of the Paris Convention.


A patent confers to its owner the exclusive right to make commercial use of his technical invention for a limited period of time (industrial property right).

Patent claims

Patent claims are a text portion of the application. The applicant defines in the claims what he wishes to seek protection for. The patent claims determine the scope of protection of a patent. The description and the drawings, which are also part of the application, can be used for interpreting the patent claims.

Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)

The international Patent Cooperation Treaty provides for a centralised application and search procedure. The national offices are competent for examination and grant. By filing a single international patent application, applicants can request patent protection in any number of PCT contracting states at once.

Patent exploitation

The patent owner can exploit his patent, among other things, by utilising it himself, by granting licences or by selling the patent.

Patent family

A patent family is a group of patent applications and patent grants as well as of utility models which are all related to each other by way of a common priority.

For an application submitted as a first filing in Germany on 1 August 2012, identical subsequent applications can be filed in the states party to the Paris Convention, for example, in the United Kingdom, the USA or the European Patent Office, until 1 August 2013, without running the risk that the prior art which becomes available to the public within a year's time will be detrimental to novelty of the subsequent applications.

In our DEPATISnet database you can conduct a free search for members of existing patent families. More information on this subject is available at DEPATISnet > Help > Search Modes > Patent family search.

Patent Information Centres

More than 20 all over Germany provide comprehensive information on industrial property protection. For many years these patent information centres have been recognised cooperation partners of the German Patent and Trade Mark Office and regional points of contact for giving guidance on questions about the protection of innovation. They assist industry, science and startups in identifying, using, monitoring and managing their patents, utility models, trade marks and designs as well as in avoiding infringement of third party rights.

Patent infringement

Unauthorised use of a patented invention constitutes a patent infringement that gives the patent owner the right to claim injunctive relief and damages.

Prior art

Prior art see State of the art.


If an applicant has previously filed an IP application in Germany or in another country, he can claim the priority of the first application for the later application. This means that the date relevant for the priority of the first application is accorded to the second application. The priority period is 12 months for patents and utility models, and 6 months for trade mark and designs.

Priority date

The filing date of the first IP application can be claimed for a later application, for example at another IP office (priority). In that case, the filing date of the first application is deemed to be the priority date.

Publication of a patent application

A patent application is published 18 months after the filing date or priority date. From that date, at the latest, the file is available for public inspection. The publication of applications informs the public on possible future patent rights. An applicant can claim reasonable compensation from imitators from that date, under certain circumstances.

Recognition acquired through use

A sign has acquired recognition as a trade mark through use if a significant proportion of the relevant public identifies the goods or services, in relation to which the sign is used, as originating from a particular undertaking.

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Last updated: 8 May 2020 


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