Patents may be used to protect technical inventions, with patent protection generally being possible for new products and processes. Before a patent is granted for an application the competent patent office examines the patentability of the invention. The maximum term of protection usually is 20 years from the filing date of the patent application.Download info sheet
We advise and represent our clients in the following practice areas:
Trademarks offer protection for indications of origin for goods and services of a business. Trademark protection is not only possible for combinations of letters and words and graphical logos, but, e.g., for the three-dimensional design of a good itself or for a catchy jingle as well. Trademark protection is obtained in particular by registration of the mark in an official trademark register. The initial term of protection of generally 10 years, starting from the filing date of the mark, can be extended as often as desired.
Designs serve to protect coloring and shape of products or parts of products. Two-dimensional patterns, such as graphical symbols and fonts, can also be protected. Design protection is primarily obtained through registration in an official design register. Generally, the maximum term of protection for a design is 25 years from the filing date.
Utility models protect – similar to a patent – inventions in all technical areas. Principally, however, only products but no processes can be protected. Utility models are registered without any examination of novelty and inventive step. The maximum term of protection usually is 10 years. Utility model applications can be filed alternatively or in addition to a patent application.
Unfair competition for example can consist of misleading or unobjective comparative advertisement, the plagiarism of products, the breach of business secrets or the misuse of entrusted documents. The Act against Unfair Competition (UWG) shield businesses and entrepreneurs from such unfair commercial practices.
Copyright law in particular protects works of literature, sciences, and arts from unauthorized copying and distribution. Furthermore, photographs, the source code of computer programs and databases might also be protected by copyright.
New pharmaceuticals or plant-protective agents normally require long approval proceedings which already take up a large fraction of the patent term without the possibility to use the innovation economically. The supplementary protection certificate (SPC) was created to compensate for this delay, making it possible to prolong patent protection for pharmaceuticals and plant-protective agents for up to five years.
Plant variety protection
Newly discovered or bred plants may be protected by a plant variety right if they are distinct from related varieties and remain uniform and stable upon propagation. Plant variety protection requires an application at the competent plant variety office, which will examine if the plant variety meets the criteria for protection. The maximum term of protection is normally 25 years, for some crops and trees 30 years.
New three-dimensional structures of semiconductor elements can be protected as semiconductor topographies. After application semiconductor topographies are recorded in an official register without substantial examination. The maximum term of protection usually is 10 years
In the context of the internet, specific questions arise relating to trademark law, copyright law und the Act against Unfair Competition (UWG). Legal problems specific to the internet for example comprise domain grabbing, deep links to foreign web pages and the use of specific terms as advertising keywords.