Patents protect technical inventions. In Germany alone, tens of thousands of patent applications are filed every year – in Europe more than 170,000 per year. A patent serves to protect against imitations and thus to secure market edge.
The patent as a protective right is well-known and well-recognized. It is a good selling point – with good reason. A patent application filed at the German Patent and Trademark Office or at the European Patent Office is judged by specialists and compared with the known prior art. This procedure ensures that only inventions that fulfil the requirements lead to a patent. The patent is an examined industrial property right.
What is patentable?
The most important pre-requisite for a patent is technicity. Technical objects or technical methods can be filed as a patent application. The technical field does not play any role. The subject of a patent may be a merely mechanical tool, a machine or only a little component, a chemical composition, a medicinal substance, a household item, or a method for producing such objects.
What is not patentable?
Discoveries are not inventions; they cannot be filed as patent applications. In Germany and in Europe, the same applies to business ideas, game rules, and software as such. Should you be unsure of whether your product fulfils the requirements, please phone us! Your question can most effectively and quickly be clarified in a personal conversation.
What are the pre-requisites for a patent?
Patent law makes three demands on the invention. It has to be novel, there has to be an inventive step, and the invention has to be industrially applicable.
In practice, the first rule of thumb for your invention is this: File the application first, then publish!
The presentation of a product at a trade fair, in a video or in a trade magazine may otherwise conflict with the required novelty in the legal sense.
The second requirement of the invention is that it must comprise an inventive step. This means that the developed solution is not immediately obvious to the person skilled in the art.
Where is a patent application filed?
Inventions are filed at the patent offices as request to grant a patent.
For Germany, the patent office in charge is the German Patent and Trademark Office (GPTO). The European Patent Office (EPO) provides protection in European countries. International patent applications are filed at a country’s respective patent office, e.g. in the US, China or India. Alternatively, an international filing procedure according to the PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) is available in which we will file your application at the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). We are glad to advise you when deciding where to file your patent application.
Broadening your patent protection
Even small and medium-size enterprises are active today beyond their national borders. However, the expansion of a product market abroad often only succeeds if competitors there cannot simply adopt the new product idea. With a patent in Germany, one can only take action against unauthorized use in Germany. It therefore makes sense to think about filing an application abroad in good time.
There are various possibilities for the applicant depending on the markets he is interested in. For example, a company can target individual countries by applying for national patents there.
Thus, it is possible to file patent applications in the US, China and India in addition to an already existing patent application or patent in Germany.
If protection in several European countries is desired, the obvious choice is the European patent application, which can be filed at the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich in German, English or French language. The protective right application is first examined and finally granted centrally at the European Patent Office. Only after granting do individual national patents arise. This procedure facilitates the application procedure significantly.
A similar approach is offered by an international application via the “Patent Cooperation Treaty” (PCT). A central application procedure and a first central search provide a basis for the grant of one or more patents in over 150 contracting states worldwide.
When do I have to make up my mind?
Not all decisions have to be taken immediately. Basically, anyone who has already filed a patent application in one country has exactly 12 months from the filing date – the so-called priority year – to decide in which other countries he wishes to file a patent application.
Which documents have to be filed?
A patent application basically comprises so-called patent claims, which describe in a concise and precise form what is to be protected, and a detailed technical description of your invention. We will prepare these documents for you. After your approval, we will submit the documents for you to the relevant office. Usually, technical drawings are attached.
Expert preparation by a patent attorney has many advantages. Firstly, the patent attorney has a sound scientific education, which enables him to understand and describe your invention. In addition, he also knows the formal and legal requirements for a patent application. Thus, he can carefully prepare the application documents according to the required regulations and create the best possible basis for an examination by the responsible patent office.
What will happen with the application?
Once the application has been filed, the respective patent office checks whether the invention is “patentable”. This examination is subject to a fee. Only after the examination procedure has been completed is it clear whether and to what extent a patent will be granted. We patent attorneys support you in this process. If we are appointed as representatives, we carry out the examination procedure for you before the Office in order to obtain the best possible protection for you and your product.
For how long does a patent offer protection?
From the date of filing, the patent has a maximum term of protection of 20 years. In order to maintain protection, an annual fee must be paid to the Patent Office from the third year onwards.
How much does a patent cost?
Click here in order to view the costs of a patent application.