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How do I protect my IP?

What do I have to do before filing an application?

A thorough search is crucial. No matter which IP right you are interested in – before filing an application, it is important that you inform yourself well about already existing IP rights in the respective field:

  • What is the state of the art in the field in which I have made an invention? Is it really new? Has another person by any chance already claimed a patent or utility model for something similar?
  • Is it possible that the trade mark name I would like to apply for already exists? Is my sign perhaps similar to an already registered trade mark?
  • Does my design possibly infringe the IP rights of someone else who already has an effective design in Germany?

If you conduct a thorough search (or have a search done) before filing your application, you can minimise the risk of infringing another person’s existing IP right. In addition, you reduce the risk of your IP right being challenged.

  • Filing an application with careful thought and consideration

Previous observations of competitors and market analyses are indispensable. This way, you will also get to know your competitors and their IP strategy better.

  • Exclude grounds for refusal as far as possible

Find out about the requirements for protection of the respective IP right (patents, utility models, trade marks as well as designs) and avoid formal errors.

  • A search in IP databases (e.g. DEPATISnet and DPMAregister ) provides access to technical knowledge or to a great variety of design forms and can become a valuable source of inspiration.

How and where should I search?

  • The free databases of the DPMA and those of other providers give you an initial overview of whether your invention is really new or whether your desired trade mark name may already be protected.
  • Our Customer Care and Services at our locations in Munich, Berlin and Jena provide initial support for the respective searches by telephone, e-mail or in person.
  • You can search for existing IP rights in the search rooms of the DPMA in Munich and Berlin and with our cooperation partners, the Patent Information Centres. On site you will find experts who will be happy to assist you in your search.
  • If you want to learn more about the searches, why not attend a DPMA search workshop? Our offer is available here (in German).
  • In many cases, it is advisable to make use of a professional search support. Our regional cooperation partners, the Patent Information Centres, are available to provide you with relevant support by means of paid searches.
  • Search assignments are also accepted by patent attorneys and commercial patent search agents.

Whatever you decide: It is worth investing some time in searching and finding out what is already available on the market. This way, you can avoid costly surprises and circumvent the risk of unintentionally infringing the rights of third parties because earlier claims already exist.

Where do I apply for IP rights? How does this work?

The DPMA is your competent partner for the registration of IP rights. You can file and register your IP rights with us in the usual paper-based way or via e-filing. All necessary forms, information on the required documents and information on the fees can be found on our website. Our Customer Care and Services will be happy to help you with any questions you may have.

Faster than you think!

In the case of trade marks, designs and utility models, the period between filing an application and registering an IP right is relatively short: As a rule, the procedure takes about three months (in case of an application without deficiencies).

The case is different with patents though: Your request for examination will be thoroughly examined by the DPMA. On average, the procedure takes three to five years. According to legal requirements, the patent application is published after 18 months. For the period between this publication and the conclusion of the examination procedure, a split-off utility model may offer rapid protection.

Picture 1: iStock.com/simarik, Picture 2: iStock.com/lisegagne

Last updated: 17/10/19 

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