Where can I find information, advice, support and funding opportunities?
Information services offered at the DPMA
We provide information to you on these SME pages and you can also find further support on the following DPMA webpages:
- Information material: We have also compiled brochures and information factsheets on intellectual property rights, which you can download as PDF files.
- Central Customer Care and Services: You can phone, e-mail or visit Customer Care and Services at our locations in Munich, Berlin and Jena.
- Search rooms: You can visit the DPMA search rooms in Munich and Berlin to carry out searches there.
- Initial consultations for inventors: Every week, experienced lawyers offer free initial consultations on all intellectual property rights on our premises. Please make an appointment by phoning + 49 89 2195-1000 for Munich and +49 30 25992-230/231 for Berlin.
- Further training: The DPMA regularly offers seminars and workshops on various IP topics and on searches for patents, trade marks and designs in publicly accessible databases.
SMEs Fund 2023
The Ideas Powered for business SME Fund is a grant scheme designed to help EU small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) intellectual property (IP) rights. The SME Fund is a European Commission initiative implemented by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The initiative will run from January 23, 2023 to December 8, 2023. Funds are limited and will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
Why protecting your intellectual property is necessary
Protecting your IP is a must in the digital age. It is the only legal way to avoid having your unique ideas, products, or services copied or used without permission. IP protection can cover many different assets, including trade marks, designs, patents, corporate identities, products, services, and processes.
Who can benefit from the SME Fund
How the SME Fund works
The SME fund is a reimbursement programme that issues vouchers that can be used to partly cover the fees for the selected activities. Various vouchers are available:
Important: First apply for the grant, then make an appointment.
In order to receive the grant from the SME fund, please exactly follow the process set out by EUIPO: That means you must first apply to EUIPO for the grant and only after that can you make an appointment for an IP scan. More information is available on the EUIPO website. Furthermore, you can open the FAQ list on the SME fund. Please address any further questions directly to EUIPO.
Patent information centres – your local service providers
The German patent information centres are the regional IP contacts for inventors, companies and research institutions. As recognised long-standing cooperation partners of the DPMA, they offer comprehensive information on industrial property protection at 20 locations throughout Germany, especially for SMEs and people starting up in business. As competent service providers, they offer their customers high-quality, tailor-made services and guarantee confidentiality and secrecy.
More information about the patent management services offered by patent information centres is available at www.piznet.de (in German).
Legal advice and representation
Basically you can apply for IP rights yourself. However, it may be useful to consult a patent attorney or a lawyer experienced in the field of IP protection before filing an application. This helps to avoid possible errors during the application procedure, which cannot be corrected later. If the sought-after IP right later brings significant added value for your company, the additional financial expense for legal representation should have been worthwhile.
Addresses of patent attorneys can be found on the Internet.
Regular information events
- Gründerwoche (Startup Week Germany): Nationwide campaign week in October on the issue of "entrepreneurship".
- World Intellectual Property Day is celebrated every year on 26 April; it is coordinated by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); it aims to make the value and importance of creativity and intellectual property transparent and underline the importance of protecting it.
- Deutsche Gründer- und Unternehmertage (deGut) (German Entrepreneurship Days): trade fair focusing on the topics of starting up in business and entrepreneurship in Berlin in October.
- Events: dates of DPMA events
Other organisations providing information and support
- Customs is the authority which, at the request of the IP holder, seizes counterfeit goods. Application forms are available here.
- Aktionskreis gegen Produkt- und Markenpiraterie (APM): The German Anti-Counterfeiting Association, as a cross-industry alliance, has been actively campaigning for the protection of intellectual property since 1997.
- German Chamber of Patent Attorneys: Electronic list of all the patent attorneys admitted to practise in Germany; you can also search by towns.
- IPR Helpdesk offers free-of-charge support on IP matters to companies that are beneficiaries of EU-funded research projects and EU SMEs involved in transnational partnership agreements. The IPR Helpdesk provides information in the form of IP guides, case studies und fact sheets (e.g on copyright, domain names, etc.)
- VDI-Wissensforum: This training institute offers training courses/seminars for a fee.
Funding opportunities for SMEs
- WIPANO – "Wissens- und Technologietransfer durch Patente und Normen" (webpage in German): Funding programme of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy. The programme supports SMEs wishing to protect their research and development (R&D) results for the first time through IP rights or whose last IP application was filed more than five years ago. The funding aims to help develop a strategic understanding of the patent system and to contribute to raising awareness of the benefits of IP rights.
- Federal Funding Advisory Service "Research and Innovation": Free funding advisory service for research and innovation in the fields of high tech, materials research, nutrition, agriculture.
- Chambers of Industry and commerce (webpage in German): The regional chambers of industry and commerce offer SMEs general advice on innovation and guidance on funding schemes.
- Chambers of skilled crafts: The regional and local chambers of skilled crafts focus on businesses in all sectors of skilled crafts and offer general advisory services on innovation and funding.
- Horizon 2020: Strategic research funding programme of the European Union. EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation with specific programme for SMEs.
- COSME: Programme for enhancing the competitiveness of enterprises and for SMEs (2014-2020) with educational programmes and guidance for young enterpreneurs.
- High-Tech Strategy of the German government: The German government’s High-Tech Strategy (HTS) bundles the German government's activities on research and innovation policy and brings together all stakeholders from science, industry and society involved in the innovation process. An important focus here is on strengthening the innovative power of small and medium-sized enterprises by providing an extensive range of support. Fields of action are the digital economy, sustainable energy, innovative workplaces (new services, education and qualification), health (prevention, cure and care), mobility, civil security.
- Förderdatenbank (funding database, webpage in German): A comprehensive and current overview by the Federal German Government of the funding programmes and grants from the Federal Government, the governments of the German Länder and the EU.
- Nationale Kontaktstelle KMU (national contact for SMEs, webpage in German): Advisory services on EU funding in the fields of raw material efficiency, the creative industry, the construction industry, aerospace and mobility.
- Enterprise Europe Network Germany: Portal of the EU advisory network of the German Länder.
- International Bureau: The coordination office of the research association of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) offers assistance on the following fields: giving advice on international research cooperation, developing funding concepts, funding procedures and instruments, providing tailor-made information and guidance on technical, geographical and intercultural topics, assisting in obtaining financial support and supporting projects from the start to completion.
- Innovaccess - Intellectual Property Portal: Portal of the VIP4SME of the EU Commission focusing on raising awareness of the importance of intellectual property among SMEs, helping them to learn how to use IP and providing knowledge about IP.
- VDMA directory „Product and Know-How Protection“ (2nd edition, 2016 ) Editor: Arbeitsgemeinschaft Produkt- und Know-how-Schutz im Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau e.V. (VDMA) [Product and Know-how Protection: A working group within VDMA]
Picture 1: iStock.com/stevanovicigor, Bild 3: EUIPO, Bild 4: EUIPO, Bild 4: EUIPO, Picture 3: iStock.com/seventyfour
Last updated: 24 January 2023