Information

Find answers to frequently asked questions and get suggestions for free research opportunities.

Research options

Do you need an initial overview of the state of the art for your invention? We recommend you use the following free research options:

DEPATISnet

Espacenet

Google Patentsuche

Of course we are happy to conduct professional research activities for you at any time.

Patents

General information

A patent is an industrial property right that protects a technical invention. It is essentially a national right and is subject to the legal provisions of the country in which it is granted.

Patent protection is based on a patent application, which clearly and unambiguously formulates the invention, in some cases with the aid of drawings. During the course of the application and examination procedure the particular patent office examines whether an invention is novel, innovative and commercially applicable. The patent is granted once the granting procedure has been completed successfully.

A patent is an exclusive privilege, not a positive right of use. The patent holder can exclude the public from using his patented invention.

Minimum criteria

The basic criteria for obtaining a patent are essentially:

  • novelty
  • inventive step
  • commercial applicability

Patent protection does not cover:

  • discoveries
  • scientific theories
  • mathematical methods
  • aesthetic creations
  • inventions that violate public order or common decency
  • plant species
  • animal species
  • human surgical, therapeutic or diagnostic procedures

Novelty

An invention is said to be novel when it does not constitute the current state of the art. This includes everything that has been in the public domain in the form of a written or oral description, as a result of usage or in any other manner prior to the priority date of the application.

Inventive step

An inventive step means that the invention for which an application is being lodged must not be obvious to a person skilled in the field of the invention with respect to the current state of the art.

Patent claims

The patent entitles the patent holder to prevent others from commercially manufacturing, distributing, offering for sale or using the object of the invention or to introduce or own it for the aforementioned purposes.

Utility models

Object of utility model protection

Technical inventions are protected as utility models if they are novel, are based on an inventive step and are commercially applicable. Utility model protection is primarily available for inventions requiring a registered right of protection in the short term.

An invention eligible for utility model protection also includes in particular programming logic based on programs for data processing facilities.

Not eligible for utility model protection are in particular:

  1. discoveries and scientific theories and mathematical methods;
  2. aesthetic creations;
  3. plans, rules and procedures for performing mental activities, for playing games or for engaging in commercial activities as well as programs for data processing facilities;
  4. the reproduction of information;
  5. inventions, the publication and exploitation of which would violate public order or common decency;
  6. surgical, therapeutic or diagnostic methods for use on humans;
  7. plant varieties and animal species, including microorganisms, and essentially biological methods for their breeding.

Novelty

An invention is deemed to be novel if it differs from the state of the art. This includes everything that has been in the public domain prior to the priority date of the application by means of written or oral description, usage or in any other manner. The disclosure of an invention is not taken into consideration if it is later than six months prior to the application date and does not directly or indirectly originate from the applicant or their legal predecessor.

Trademarks

A trademark is a symbol that can be represented graphically (word, image, sound). It serves to differentiate the goods and services of one company from those of another.

The trademark holder can prohibit a third party from using a symbol that is the same or similar to the trademark for the same or similar goods or services in commercial transactions without the trademark holder's approval. It is assumed from the outset that the risk of confusion exists for identical symbols and the same goods or services.

In the case of well-known brands this right of exclusion can extend beyond the realm of similar goods and services. Extended protection of well-known brands is only possible if use of the trademark or a similar symbol by a third party exploits or compromises the distinctiveness or the value of the trademark without justification in an anti-competitive manner.

Trademark protection remains in place for ten years, but can be extended for a further ten years as often as required upon payment of a renewal fee.

Designs

A design within the meaning of the design protection laws is a design of an entire product or a part thereof resulting inter alia from the characteristics of the lines, contours, colors, form and/or surface structure. Essentially, the creator of a design or their legal successor has a right to protect the design. Design protection ensures that the holder has the exclusive right to use the design and to prohibit third parties from doing so without the holder's approval.

The filed design is only examined for its legality. The application process does not examine novelty, uniqueness, whether the design is determined by its technical function, whether it violates older design rights or whether the applicant is entitled to design protection. The absence of these requirements can result in the design right being revoked.

Novelty

A design is considered to be novel if no identical design has been in the public domain prior to the day of the design application being filed or before the priority date if priority is claimed. Designs are considered to be identical if their features differ only minimally.

Originality

A design is original if the overall impression engendered in an informed user differs from the overall impression created by an older design. In evaluating originality, the degree of the designer's creative freedom in developing the design is taken into account.

Period of grace

In the event of revocation proceedings, events detrimental to originality, e.g. printed publications or exhibitions, do not compromise the originality being examined if they did not occur within twelve months of the priority date and are attributable to the designer or their legal successor.