Patent and Utility Model
Your technical inventions can be protected with a patent or utility model provided they are new and inventive. The inventions concerned may be products or commodities, such as articles of daily use, tools, appliances or electronic circuits, or indeed processes, such as manufacturing processes, work processes or methods of measurement.
Patents are granted for technical solutions which are new and involve an inventive step, provided that they are also capable of industrial application. The patent confers upon its owner a right of monopoly for a limited period of time, during which only the owner may exploit the patented invention or grant others the right to do so. Patent protection in Germany and according to most patent systems in the world covers a maximum period of 20 years.
- Like patents, utility models protect technical inventions. In contrast to patents, however, they may only be granted for products or commodities and not for processes. A technical solution must be new, involve an inventive step and be capable of industrial application in order to be protected effectively by a utility model right. The maximum term of protection for a utility model is 10 years.
To assess the chances of a patent application or to establish whether registration as a utility model makes sense, research can be carried out and evaluated by us. Furthermore, we conduct research to establish whether a product you are planning infringes the technical property rights of a third party.
In order for protection to be obtained for an invention, an application must be filed with the relevant patent office. We can prepare patent applications and utility model applications with a detailed technical description of the invention for you. This involves us working in close cooperation to complete a professional presentation of your invention. Furthermore, we represent you before the patent office during the application procedure, to ensure that your invention is granted optimal protection.
- Defence of Property Rights, Patent disputes
Once a patent has been granted, we provide legal advice if your rights are challenged and represent you before the patent authorities during opposition procedures, cancellation or nullity proceedings. In the case of a potential infringement of a patent or utility model we will advise you, prepare the necessary infringement reports and represent your interests before the ordinary courts together with a solicitor colleague licensed for the trial court.
- Licence agreements
Contracts relating to the use of patents are a further area in which we represent your interests, in particular licence agreements. We can draw up the relevant draft contracts and assist you during negotiations.
- You can use a trade mark to protect a name, a logo or other form of identification, such as a three-dimensional trade mark, for your product or your services.
- Trade mark protection is achieved via official registration or may also, in certain cases, be achieved through the use of an appropriate sign, whereby official registration provides a range of advantages. The key conditions for trade mark protection are that the relevant sign fulfils the basic requirement of distinctiveness and that it does not merely consist of figures or terms which are in general linguistic use or commonly used to describe the products or services.
- The term of protection for a registered trade mark is 10 years and may be extended for further periods of ten years, as often as required.
- We provide comprehensive support and advice on all matters relating to trade marks, from completion of a trade mark search prior to registration through to enforcement of your rights from a registered trade mark both at home and abroad. Furthermore, we keep watch over the purity of your brand through regular monitoring and, as necessary, formal warnings to third parties who copy your trade mark in identical or similar form and could thus water down the brand.
- Research / Registration
If you intend to register a trade mark, we can conduct a search initially in order to check the availability of the proposed designation, logo or other form of trade mark. We subsequently take care of the registration procedure with the relevant authority and – if necessary – deal with official objections resulting from absolute grounds for refusal (a trade mark can, for example, be refused for being „descriptive“) or opposition notices lodged by the owners of older trade marks. In this context we also prepare prior claim agreements, which often enable opposition procedures to be avoided or resolved.
- Use, Defence and Enforcement of Trade Marks
Upon request, we conduct collision monitoring to identify newer trade marks which are identical or similar to your existing trade mark. If a collision is confirmed, we will defend your rights by means of an opposition procedure. In the case of infringement we can enforce your rights either though extra-judicial proceedings or, in conjunction with specialised solicitors, by entering legal action. If you wish to enable third parties to use your trade mark or you wish to use someone else's, we will be pleased to conduct the negotiations and prepare the necessary licensing contract.
- For trade mark protection outside Germany's borders there are varied options available, including individual registration in national registers, registration as a European Union trade mark (in 27 European countries), or international registration according to the Madrid Trade Mark Agreement or its Protocol, each with varying conditions for registration, regulations for use and not least level of costs incurred. We will be pleased to help you find the most appropriate means of protecting your trade mark according to the country coverage required.
- If you wish to protect the design of your product - i.e. the two-dimensional or three-dimensional form of appearance of an industrial or artisan product - at national or international level, then a registered design is the appropriate form of protection. As new products are often part of a collection or series of models, a so-called multiple application may be filed to protect such a group of new products.
- The maximum term of protection for a design registered by individual or multiple application is 25 years.
We help to assess whether an individual or multiple application is appropriate for your new product design. We work with you to select the optimal illustration of your design for the application and subsequently take care of the registration procedure with the relevant authorities.
- Defence and Enforcement of Registered Designs
We support you as the owner of design rights in enforcing your claims, and verify whether competitors' products might infringe on your protected intellectual property. We prepare the correspondence to clarify potential cases of conflict and represent you during infringement proceedings.
We are also your first point of contact should third parties feel that their rights are compromised by your commercial activity. In such cases we check whether their intellectual property has indeed been infringed and represent your interests vis-à-vis third parties who seek to take action.
- Licence agreements
Well designed products can often be used in manifold ways. If you are planning, for example, to cooperate with distribution partners or assign production to a third party, registered designs provide the basis for licensing agreements. We can support you during negotiations on such agreements, e.g. by drafting the necessary contracts.