Did you know that “servile imitation,” meaning the identical copying of, for example, a machine or design or the use of a (non-registered) distinguishing sign is basically permitted?

Intellectual property rights like patents, utility models, registered designs and trademarks serve to protect industrial products in which a particular intellectual achievement finds its expression.

An intellectual property right grants its holder the sole right to use the subject of protection (e. g. invention, design, trademark etc.). In proceedings concerning the infringement of an intellectual property right, its proprietor not only has a right to full information and compensation but also a right to injunctive relief, which in some circumstances can be asserted with a preliminary injunction.

In addition, the proprietor of an intellectual property right may use an indication of that right such as "German Patent No. ...," "German Utility Model No. ...," Registered Design No. ..." or the indication of trademark protection ® in connection with the subject of protection. This serves the dual purpose of promoting the product and warding off imitators.

Finally, the purpose of an intellectual property right is not just to protect a product from imitation to ensure its price. Often the proprietor of the right is also interested in granting licenses. Quite often a desired license can only be acquired if the would-be licensee can offer the grant of a license to use an intellectual property right of his own in return (cross-licensing).

A patent is granted for technical inventions which stand out from prior art in the technical field concerned, meaning that they are "new" and based on an "inventive step". 

A utility model - like a patent - is a way of protecting technical inventions. However, inventions concerning processes (e. g., processes for the production of a substance or product or methods of operating a data processing installation) are excluded from utility model protection.

The protection granted by a German intellectual property right (patent or utility model) is confined to the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany. Export-oriented companies generally have an interest in arranging additional protection for their inventions in foreign markets that are of interest to them.

A European Patent - like a German Patent - is granted for technical inventions which are novel, inventive and commercially applicable after passing an examination procedure.

A patent application according to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is a unified patent application with effect for a multiple of individual contracting states and confederations.

At the German Patent and Trademark Office it is possible to register as trademarks not only signs that can be reproduced in two dimensions but also sound marks, three-dimensional designs including the shape of a product or its packaging (“3D - mark”), and other "getups." 

Foreign trademark protection can be obtained by registering national trademarks. This requires the filing of a national trademark application in foreign countries. 

A registered design (= design patent) can be used to obtain protection for new, aesthetic two or three-dimensional creations of color and/or shape to be used as an original for an industrial serial product.

Foreign protection of designs can be obtained by registration of national design patents abroad. 

New plant varieties and their names may be protected under the Plant Variety Protection Act.

Three-dimensional structures of microelectronic semiconductor products (topographies) - in other words the "mask work" of microchips with a multi-layer structure - can be protected under the German Semiconductor Protection Act.

Under German law, the right to the patent shall belong, in principle, to the inventor. However, a service invention made by an employee may be claimed by the employer.

The chances of a patent being granted are strongly dependent on a thorough knowledge of what is considered “state-of-the-art” or “leading edge” in the technical field concerned. If desired, we will conduct a search to determine the relevant degree of advancement before preparing and filing application documents.

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