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Legal Protection of Industrial Property Rights

Under German patent law , patents are granted by ruling of the German Patent Office in Munich, where they are registered and published in the Patent Office Journal. The process for registering a patent is only initiated on application and is subject to a fee. Only those inventions can be patented that are suitable for commercial exploitation, and only the first applicant is entitled to issue of a patent (exception: prior application for registration of the patent in a signatory country to the Paris Union Treaty). Foreigners may register patents on exactly the same terms as German nationals. However, applicants who are neither domiciled in Germany nor have a branch of their business there must enlist the services of a German patent lawyer or a solicitor to make their application. Patents are valid for 20 years from the day of application.

Patent applications can be made in any language, and can also be submitted by electronic data transfer. However, a German translation must be additionally submitted within three months at the latest.

Further detailed information can be obtained from

Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt

(German Patent and Trademark Office)

Zweibrückenstrasse 12

80331 München

Tel: 089-2195 3402

Fax: 089-2195 2784

Internet: http://www.dpma.de

Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt

Dienststelle Jena

(Jena Branch)

Goethestrasse 1

07743 Jena

Tel: 03641-405 555

Fax: 03641-405 666

Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt

Dienststelle Berlin

(Berlin Branch)

Gitschiner Strasse 97

10696 Berlin

Tel: 030-25992 220

Fax: 030-25992 404

European Patent Office

Erhardtstrasse 27

80331 München

Te.: 089-2399 0

Fax: 089-2399 4560

Information can also be obtained from the Internet Patent Service of the Federal Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Technology at: http://patentebmbf.de

For license agreements , there are no particular requirements as to the form. Only license agreements which are relevant under the antitrust law must be made in writing. License agreements may grant an ordinary license or an exclusive license. In practice, however, exclusive licenses seldom occur. If no use is made of a patent whose exploitation is in the public interest, a compulsory license may, under certain conditions, be entered in the register of patents.

In the case of any illegal use of a patented invention by a third party, the owner of the patent or, in the case of an exclusive license agreement, the licensee may bring action at a court of law to prohibit such use. As provisional protection, this right to prohibit use by third parties begins as soon as the patent office publishes the fact that an application for a patent has been made. Pursuant to the treaty on international cooperation in the field of patents, international patent applications can also be made to the German Patent and Trademark Office in Munich. Pursuant to the Convention on Community Patents, applications for European patents which are effective in more than one European country can be made to the European Patent Office which is also located in Munich.

Under the Utility Models Act , the inventor of certain technical innovations to working implements or articles of everyday use can be granted the right of exclusive use of the innovation (?lesser patent"). This kind of protection lasts for three years. The period of protection can then be extended initially for a further three years and then for two more periods of two years each, making ten years altogether. Protection of this kind is obtained by the invention being entered inn the register of utility models at the Patent Office. However, utility models are an unverified right of protection. The contentual requirement for granting of a utility model are only scrutinized if an application is made for deletion of the entry from the register.

Protection for designs is given under the Registered Designs Act . In this case, in contrast to patents or utility models, only the external form - i.e. the design - in protected.

In return for a fee, the German Patent and Design Office will register the design and also publish an illustration of it in the Journal of Registered Designs. The protection is valid for five years and can be extended for additional periods of five years, up to a maximum of 20 years.

When a design is registered, the copyright mark (©) can be displayed on the object in question.

A registered trade mark is a method for distinguishing the goods and services of different companies. Marks of this kind, which are associated with a specific manufacturer/supplier, may take the form of symbols, words, illustrations, audio signatures, colour designs, packagings, etc. In accordance with the EU Trade Marks Directive, the term ?trade mark" replaced the German expressions ?goods mark" (Warenzeichen) and ?service mark" (Dienstleistungsmarke) when the new Trade Marks Act came in force in Germany in 1995. Under the Trade marks Act, once a trade mark has been registered at the German Patent Office, the owner can indicate this by placing ® (registered trade mark) after the trade mark. Protection is valid for a period of ten years. It can then be extended for a further ten


Since 1996, applicants have also been able to centrally register a Community trade mark at the

European Trade Mark Office

(Office for Harmonisation of the Internal Market)

Avenida de Aguilera 20

03080 Alicante


Tel: 0034-139 100

Fax: 0034-131 173

Internet: http://oami.eu.int

This gives them uniform trade mark protection in all 15 countries of the EU. Also in this case, the period of protection is ten years, with the possibility of extension.


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