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Patents, Trade Marks and more at a Glance

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Patents add value to technical inventions

The patent is an important industrial property right which gives its owner the exclusive right to exploit the invention within a period of up to 20 years. No other person may, without the owner‘s consent, make use of the patented invention. Nobody is allowed to manufacture, offer for sale, put on the market or import products protected by the patent or use patented processes, without a licence.

Patents can be granted for inventions and processes from all fields of technology. These three criteria, above all, must be fulfilled:

  • novelty
  • involvement of an inventive step
  • industrial applicability
Hand with computer chip and motherboard

However, patent protection is not available for, among other things:

  • mere discoveries (that means finding something that already exists, e.g. magnetism, x-rays)
  • scientific theories or mathematical methods
  • plans, rules and methods for performing mental acts
  • games
  • aesthetic creations (here design protection is a possibility)
  • business activities such as organisation schemes

The application for a patent filed with the German Patent and Trade Mark Office must contain a comprehensive description of the invention enabling a person skilled in the art to understand it and carry it out. The examination as to patentability will be carried out when a request for examination has been filed with the DPMA, for which a fee must be paid.

Detailed information is available at "Patents".

Patent fees (excerpt)
Fee for  Amount 
application fee for paper-based filing (including up to ten claims)   60 euros 
- extra fee for the eleventh and each additional claim   30 euros 
application fee for electronic filing (including up to ten claims)   40 euros 
- extra fee for the eleventh and each additional claim   20 euros 
examination request (no patent grant without examination)   350 euros 
In addition, annual fees have to be paid as from the third year after the filing date.  

Detailed information on fees is available at "Fees".


Utility models: easy, low-cost and fast protection for inventions

Bottling plant

Technical inventions which are new and industrially applicable can also be protected by a utility model right if they involve an inventive step.

Utility models are available for all fields of technology for which patent protection is available, with the exception of processes (such as manufacturing or working processes).

A utility model gives its owner the right to exclude unauthorised persons from using the invention for up to ten years.

Utility model applications must be filed in writing with the German Patent and Trade Mark Office together with a description of the invention. Since, contrary to a patent, the subject matter of a utility model application is not examined for novelty and inventiveness, the applicant can obtain a registered utility model as early as within two to three months against payment of a small fee.

A thorough comprehensive examination will only be performed if a third party challenges the utility model by filing a request for cancellation. If you wish to assess the validity of your utility model in advance, you can request us to ascertain the relevant publications during a search procedure.

Further information is available at "Utility models".

Utility model fees (excerpt)
Fee for  Amount 
application fee (including a term of protection of three years)  40 euros 

Detailed information on the costs of utility model protection is available at "Fees".

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Trade marks: badges of origin, labels of quality, advertising signs

Street scene with luminous advertising

Trade marks are signs used to identify and distinguish the goods and services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Words, images, sounds, three-dimensional configurations, colours or other signs, among other things, can be registered as trade marks in the Register to the extent that they can be represented graphically. The term of protection is ten years. It can be renewed indefinitely.

A trade mark will be registered if there are no absolute grounds for refusal. In particular, it is not possible to register signs or indications which are merely descriptive of the kind, quality or other properties and features of the goods or services applied for.

The registration of the trade mark confers an exclusive right to its owner, who can prohibit third parties from using an identical or similar sign, likely to cause confusion, in respect of identical or similar goods or services and may claim damages, if appropriate. However, it is not possible to generally prohibit the descriptive use of a sign as an indication of the properties or features of goods or services.

Owners of earlier trade marks can challenge a trade mark within a period of three months after publication of the trade mark registration. If the opposition is successful, the later trade mark will be cancelled.

Further information is available at "Trade Marks".

Trade mark fees (excerpt)
Fee for  Amount 
application fee (for three classes of goods and/or services including a term of protection of ten years)  300 euros 
for each further class of goods and/or services   100 euros 

More information on the costs of trade mark protection is available at "Fees".

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Designs: protection of the visual appearance of a product

A colourful umbrella amidst grey ones

Registered designs protect the outward appearance of two-dimensional or three-dimensional products (for example, textiles or furniture). Protection is available for shapes, patterns and/or colour configurations of articles.

When a design has been registered, the applicant has the exclusive right to use the registered design. They can prohibit third parties from using it without their consent. They alone are entitled to manufacture, offer for sale, put on the market, export, import or use a product in which the registered design is incorporated or to which it is applied.

The application must include a (photographic or other graphical) representation of the design. Up to 100 designs may be combined in one application even if they belong to different classes of goods.

Design protection arises only if the design is new and has individual character at the time of filing the application. However, the design will be entered in the Designs Register without examination of novelty and individual character. These requirements for protection will only be examined in invalidity proceedings before the DPMA or in infringement proceedings before a court.

Designs protection arises on the date of entering the design in the Designs Register. Protection can be maintained for up to 25 years from the filing date.

Further information is available at "Designs".

Design fees (excerpt)
Fee for  Amount 
Application for a single design  
for electronic filing  60 euros 
for paper-based filing   70 euros 
multiple application 
for electronic filing - for each design  6 euros, Minimum fee 60 euros 
for paper-based filing - for each design  7 euros, Minimum fee 70 euros 
for an initial term of protection of five years (with publication of the representation of the design) 

More information on the costs of design protection is available at "Fees".


Further information

Further information on IP rights is available in our brochures. A detailed overview of the fees charged by the DPMA is available in our information leaflet pdf-Datei Information Concerning Costs, Fees and Expenses . Our Customer Care and Services will be happy to answer any question you may have.

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Picture 1: iStock.com/nongkran_ch, Picture 2: iStock.com/golubovy, Picture 2: iStock.com/golubovy, Picture 3: iStock.com/kadmy, Picture 4: iStock.com/focusstock, Picture 5: iStock.com/3D_generator

Last updated: 15/08/18 

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