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Intellectual Property Lawyer in Germany

Intellectual Property in Germany

Updated on Monday 03rd June 2019

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Intellectual-Property-in-Germany

Germany has an ample legislation regarding the protection of intellectual property (IP). The regulations refer to copyright, trademark, design, utility model and patent protection. An intellectual property lawyer from our team can help investors understand the principles of IP protection in this country and can help with IP protection services.

 

All the laws have been drafted before Germany became an European Union member state but were subsequently modified and amended to be compatible to EU regulations regarding the protection of intellectual property. Here are the main laws providing the grounds for intellectual property protection in Germany:

  • -          the Copyright Act (UrhG),
  • -          the Patent Act (PatG),
  • -          the Trademark Act (MarkenG),
  • -          the Utility Model Act (GebrMG),
  • -          the Designs Act (GeschMG),
  • -          the Act Against Unfair Competition (UWG).

 

The particularity of the German legislation is that the Civil Code also contains provisions about intellectual property protection. German inventors also have the possibility to register for intellectual property protection with the Community Trademarks.

An intellectual property lawyer in Germany, from our team, can help entrepreneurs with complete information about the applicable intellectual property rights protection. Intellectual property (IP) is protected under unified legislation within the EU and understanding the principles that apply for the effective management of the IP rights is important for companies that enter the German market from non-EU zones.
 
Registering patents and trademarks, for example, takes place according to a principle that grants the rights to the first that submits the application, this is why a prompt application is required for those who wish to protect their distinctive marks, inventions and other creations. 
 
The different types of registered intellectual property rights can include:
 
  • Trademarks: letters, numbers, illustrations or combinations used to distinguish a company from another.
  • Designs: the shape, color or scheme of a product can be protected through registered designs for that product.
  • Utility models: technical inventions can be protected in Germany (does not apply to processes).
  • Patents: new technical inventions can be protected and their owners are the only ones to use them or grant usage to others.
  • Copyright: this does not require registration, however, these works do belong to their creator.
 
Our of our intellectual property lawyers in Germnay can give you more information about each category and about the main authority in charge of registrations is the Patent and Trade Mark Office.
 
Companies entering the EU market in Germany, as well as those foreign investors who will open a company in Germany and are not accustomed with EU regulations, can reach out to our law firm in Germany for complete assistance regarding IP protection. 
 

Copyright protection in Germany

Under the German Copyright Act, only natural persons have the right to protection for their intellectual work. Protection of intellectual property in Germany is enabled immediately, no registration is needed in order for the creation to be acknowledged. Copyright protection is available during the author’s life and 70 years after his or her death. Copyrights can be inherited in Germany and licenses can be issued to those wanting to use another person's creation. With respect to intellectual work created by employees, the German Copyright Act states that an employee will be granted protection while the employer will be granted a commercial license to make use of the work.

Designs mainly follow the same regulations as copyrights in Germany, except protection is enabled for only 25 years.

Patent and utility model protection in Germany

An invention can be patented if it is a new technical discovery and if it is suitable for commercial purposes. The application for registration of a patent in Germany will be submitted with the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA). Some of the issues that need to be taken into consideration regarding parent protection in Germany include the following:

  • The examination: the patent is examined for novelty, industrial applicability and inventive step.
  • Preliminary examination: this takes place after the submission of the documents and the invention is classified at this point.
  • Request for examination: for the patent to be obtainable, the applicant must file a request for examination; a fee applies.
  • Publication of the application: the application is secret for 18 months after it is filed and then it is published, with a notice of the publication in the DPMA register. 
  • The patent: the parent is granted when the result of the examination is a positive one; it is published in the Patent Gazette and can be searched in the DPMA database.

Another party can still challenge a granted patent. Opposition and revocation are the two possible manners in which it can be challenged. The notice of opposition can be issues within nine months after the publication of the patent in the Gazette. when this time limit expires, the patent is valid. Patents are protected for 20 years in Germany and they can be transferred.

 
Some of the grounds on which another party can challenge a patent can include:
 
  • - lack of patentability or ability to be carried out;
  • - usurpation of the invention (can be filed only by the party that has been wronged);
  • - extension of the patent’s scope of protection;
  • - inadmissible extension of the patent’s subject matter.
 
One of our intellectual property lawyers in Germany can give you more information on the protection of patents and how you can proceed in the event in which a patent is challenged. 
 
Utility models must be original and fit for commercial use just like patents in order to be protected in GermanyDesigns can also be registered and the one who registers it is the only one who will be allowed to use that design. These can refer to industrial of crafted products such as furniture, clothes, decorative objects and many others. The design protection can be granted for the entire product of only for parts of it (the sole of a shoe, for example).
 

Trademark protection in Germany

According to the Trademark Act, German trademarks are protected against wrongful use of the same or similar signs or marks by third parties. Trademarks are registered with the Patent and Trademark Office in Germany and with the Office for Harmonization of the International Market (OHIM) at European level. Trademark protection is provided for an indefinite amount of time if the owner pays a renewal fee after the first five years and then after every ten years.

The types of trademarks that can be registered include word and combined words. Figurative marks, colors, sounds, positions, patterns, motion, holograms, 3D marks, multimedia marks, and other combinations. Marks are registered for certain goods and services and the applicant is required to state for which the mark will be used.
 
Marks will be rejected in the following cases:
 
  • - they are not distinct;
  • - there is the danger of deceiving the public;
  • - they include the emblem of a state;
  • - they are offensive against public policy or moral principles.
 
Signs cannot be registered when they simply describe the goods and services that they will be used for. One of our intellectual property lawyers in Germany can give investors complete information on the distinctive character of a trademark. 
 
Protecting trademarks, patents, utility designs and other designs can be important for companies in Germany. Special consideration is advised when dealing with the inventions of employees or researchers who work for a German or international company. In most cases, the parties will agree early on who will hold the rights and a special agreement can be signed, helped by our intellectual property lawyers in Germany.
 
Foreign companies in Germany should know that they can request European protection for their property rights at the European Patent Office. You can contact our lawyers in Germany for the latest provisions of the Intellectual Property Law or for details about intellectual property registration.