Innovations ensure the competitiveness of a company. To protect company inventions, an application for patents, trademarks, designs or utility models and of their rights of use must be made to the patent office. We are happy to provide further information as part of a personal, free-of-charge initial consultation and in the following sections:
The patent is the most traditional and most technical among the industrial property rights. Patents are the heart of innovative engineering and tech companies – and are thusly of enormous economic significance (Source: LINK)
According to Patent Law (PatG) §1(1), patents are granted for inventions in all fields of engineering and technology, as long as they are novel, involve an inventive step, and are capable of industrial application. According to PatG §6, the right of the patent applies to the inventor or the legal successor. If multiple entities have made an invention independently of each other, the right goes to the one who filed the application at the patent office first.
Via the so-called exclusive rights, the patent holder(s) is/are awarded the exclusive right of use over a patent, this is valid for a limited period of time (20 years), and within the defined model. As a rule, a granting of a patent takes several months to years. After the publication of a patent specification, an objection may initially be lodged within a time period of 3 months. If the patent is finally granted, it is legally binding. The deciding authority for this is the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA), and in Europe, the European Patent Office (EPO), here a statutory procedure is undergone, and only with a positive decision does the right of prohibition, as well as further claims for compensation, information and accounting, destruction and even the publication of the decision of the patent infringement proceeding apply.
The creation of a patent specification is complex, the more so as all details of a possible imitation must be excluded, examples show the subsequent topicality, insofar as definition loopholes remain open. Here, Jostarndt Patent and Trademark Attorneys offer extensive experience in cooperating with over 100 patent attorney firms in more than 80 countries, inter alia in:
- preparation, filing and obtainment of several thousand patent applications
- experience in working for businesses of all sizes – from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies
- Knowledge in specialized fields, in particular for standard-essential patents
“Trademarks fundamentally characterize products and services of a company and, like patents, count as the intellectual property thereof.” (Citation: LINK)
Fundamentally, the trademark is to be considered in word, sound, or image, a logo, a jingle or also a particular design can be protected here, insofar as the consumer is protected against confusion. Depending on the company, trademarks have a recognition value and degree of familiarity, which can also influence the end consumer in their purchasing decision. In that case, the trademark also simultaneously represents an asset value.
A case study is available for public perusal, here relating to the disputation of the word mark “Goldbären” between “Haribo” and “Lindt”. Here, the court had to decide if a danger of confusion of the products existed. Just recently, a legal action by the singer Rihanna against a privately-owned cosmetics studio “Rihana Lamis” in Hamburg shows just how the protection of a word mark can be defined. These examples show how important it is to have extensive search carried out by an expert in advance. Trademark law also plays an ever-greater role on the Internet, a company name or a secured domain can thus infringe upon the property rights of third parties, a caution, with respect to trademark law, is a possible consequence here. At worst, an action for an injunction or claims for damages must be feared.
Per §4 (1) MarkenG, trademark protection fundamentally results first through an application, subject to fees, and entry into the trademark register. The DPMA has summarized preliminary information for this purpose: https://www.dpma.de/marken/anmeldung/index.html
Design and Utility Model
“After functional differences between products have become rarer and life cycles have become shorter, presentation is often the only distinctive feature discernable to the user” (Citation: LINK). Just like the word or figurative mark, a design very often also contributes to recognition. It is thus understandable that companies are also interested in protecting this. The more so as developed designs often also involve very significant cost. Design protection is part of industrial property right, in two- as well as in three-dimensional form, the details for which can be found in the Act on the Legal Protection of Designs (DesignG). In order to obtain a protection several prerequisites must also be fulfilled here. In the German Patent and Trademark Office, no review of novelty and individual character occurs, however. For this reason, design protection, as well as utility model protection, a fast and simpler alternative to the patent, is referred to as unexamined intellectual property right. “Design protection becomes effective upon entry into the design register and applies for a maximum of 25 years. The maintenance of the term of protection is associated with additional costs, however. If these fees are not paid, of if a further extension is no longer possible, the deletion of the entry from the design register results” (Citation: LINK).
Standards play a decisive role in protecting innovation. The monitoring of the standard over patents at the same time bears risks for its implementation, however. The holder of a standard-essential patent (SEP) can, based on their right of exclusivity, prohibit the usage of a technology or make the same dependent upon licensing conditions propitious to him/her. (Source: LINK) In this context, the FRAND system also comes into effect, which refers to “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” licensing conditions. The goal is to further, and to correspondingly reward the research and development of the firms. SEP suits have a particular significance in the telecommunications sector, shown to be a very current topic in autonomous driving. For precisely these companies own property rights for standardized software inventions, which would be necessary for highly automated or autonomous driving.