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Patents & Co.

“Patent Pending” or even more “International Patent Pending” is often used for advertising innovation. It means: this innovation can be obtained only through our business. It is, however, sometimes difficult to obtain a patent. Not all innovations are indeed patentable. Names and logos, for example, are not patented but protected by trademark registrations. Software products “as such” and commercial ideas cannot be protected by patents or utility models unless there are further technical effects. The only way to obtain protection is – if at all – copyright protection against copying. Registered designs protect the outer appearance of objects such as door handles, cups or wall paper even if such an object was known long before with different shapes and colors.

There are differnet options to protect new ideas, innovation and technologies against copying. Protective rights will be very useful for all such developements which cannot be kept secret. Patents and utility models in Germany are technical protective rights for new, technical inventions. Tradmarks can be registered for signs, such as letters or logos, for selected goods and services. Designs will protect the appearance of goods. Depending on the kind of object or idea, several protective rights can be obtained simultaneously.

Generally, a protective right must be filed before the relevant authority which is the German Patent and Trademark Office (Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt) in Germany. The Patent Office will examine the application and after successful examination the protective right will be registered or granted. Only then the proprietor will have the right to stop infringement and claim damages.

There are numerous requirements which must be fulfilled to obtain a registered or granted protective right. Trademarks may not be descriptive for the goods and services applied for. The application may of course not be contra bonos mores. An invention must be new and not obvious for the person skilled in the art in order to be based on an inventive step. Utility models are not registered for methods. Designs are only protected if they are not only technical.

It is vital that the protective rights have a sufficient scope of protection to avoid competitors to circumvent the protection. When patentability is considered the applicant and the examiner may sometimes differ in their opinions. And, of course, granted or registered protected rights may not be infringed. Patent attorneys will help you to select the best strategy which right to chose, draft applications and control the dialogue with the patent office. Furthermore, patent attorneys ensure that all formalities are fulfilled and monitor deadlines. Even those deadlines which run for 10 years.

You are active worldwide? An international network of patent attorneys and several international treaties will ensure protection of your ideas in all countries.

You fear to infringe a protective right? A search and an opinion can clarify your IP position.