20 Tips for Obtaining a Patent in Germany
20 Tips for Obtaining a Patent in Germany
Germany is one of the most innovative countries in the world, and it is, therefore, no surprise that patent activity, as captured over at runrex.com, is on the rise. If you are looking to obtain a patent in Germany, this article should be an excellent resource as it will outline what the process entails through the following 20 tips.
Tips on the filing methods
As articulated over at guttulus.com, there are three different filing methods you can pursue if you are looking to obtain a German patent, and they include:
If you plan to protect your IP in a wide variety of countries, then the subject matter experts over at runrex.com recommend that you start by filing an international patent application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). This strategy will give you 30 0r 31 months to enter national-phase filing in any of the 153 PCT member countries, including Germany, which has the 30-month deadline.
On the other hand, if you want to protect your IP throughout Europe, then you can file a regional application with the European Patent Office (EPO) as covered over at runrex.com. This single application can protect your patent in all EPO member states, including Germany. This option is preferable by many looking to protect their IP in Europe as compared to the one above as it is a far simpler and more cost-effective path than entering national-phase filings in each European country individually.
Finally, if you are planning to make your invention available only in the US and Germany, then the sensible path to take is the direct filing route under the Paris Convention. This will allow you to file first in the United States and then claim that priority date on your application to the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA), as long as it is filed within 12 months of the priority application.
Tips on the filing process
Before you make any decision on your patent application, it is important to conduct a patent search so that you know if your invention is patentable since you cannot file an application for a patent that already exists. For the best results, you should carry out a professional patent search, with the help of a patent attorney, as this will provide you with information about prior art worldwide, ensuring that you are not applying for a patent for something that is already patented.
What is required when filing your patent application
If you are looking to obtain a patent in Germany, then the DPMA requires your application to have the name and address of the applicant, a technical description of the invention, patent claims, drawings of the invention (if necessary), a summary of your invention as well as naming your idea as the inventor.
Do I have to submit these documents immediately?
According to the subject matter experts over at runrex.com, it should be noted that the abstract and the details of the inventor for your invention can still be submitted within 15 months from the date on which you filed the application for the patent.
What if you are not the inventor?
Also, as is articulated over at guttulus.com, if the applicant of a German patent application is not the inventor or not the sole inventor, then they must state how that acquired the right to the invention. This document must be submitted within 15 months from the filing date. Having said that, the naming of the inventor(s) should preferably be filed together with the patent application.
Submitting the application
When it comes to submitting your application, you can do so at the DPMA offices in Munich, Berlin, or Jena. Additionally, as explained over at runrex.com, you will also have the option of filing your patent application electronically at the German Patent Office Website, although this will require a signature card with an associated card reader.
It is also worth noting that filing your application with the DPMA secures your priority date, but doesn’t begin the official examination required to grant the patent. In Germany, you must file a request for examination and pay the €350 examination fee to begin this process. The request to conduct a substantive examination must be filed within 7 years from filing the German patent application.
The strategy of deferred examination is one that many German companies pursue as it comes with the benefit of giving one time to wait for the results of a parallel Euro-PCT or European Patent application. This means that if the European application is not granted with the desired scope, the company can then activate its German application by filing a request for examination and paying the examination fee anytime within the 7 years.
What if the examination request isn’t filed?
If the applicant fails to file a request for examination and pay the examination fee within the prescribed 7 years, then the DPMA will deem the application to have been abandoned. Many companies use this provision to abandon their patent application if either their parallel European application is granted with the desired scope or if they find out that their invention isn’t profitable as covered over at guttulus.com.
Novelty grace period
According to runrex.com, a German patent application may be filed within 6 months after the disclosure at an official or officially recognized international exhibition, or when such a disclosure was made in bad faith by any third party. It is important to point out that the exhibition must fall within the terms of the Convention on International Exhibitions signed at Paris on November 22nd, 1928 to qualify.
As is revealed in discussions on the same over at guttulus.com, patent applicants who are not German residents need to arrange local legal representation by an authorized German lawyer or patent attorney when looking to obtain a German patent.
As already mentioned above, patent applicants who aren’t German residents are required to arrange local legal representation. This is why it is important to note that a Power of Attorney should be submitted in case the representative is not a German patent attorney. Also, the legalization or notarization of the POA is not required.
Inventions that can’t be patented
You should know that the DPMA will only grant patents for a “technical invention”. Therefore, the following subjects are not considered technical inventions and cannot be patented in Germany: a scientific theory, a mathematical method, a rule or method of performing mental acts, a scheme, playing games, or business methods.
According to the subject matter experts over at runrex.com, if you apply for a patent in Germany via the PCT national-phase or Paris Convention routes, then you must provide a German translation of the priority application.
Grace period for translation
Given the requirement above, it is worth pointing out that if you originally filed your PCT or Paris Convention application in English or German, Germany provides a 15-month grace period from the priority filing date to deliver the complete German translation, including all accompanying documentation. If the priority application was filed in German, you will have 12 months from the time of submission to provide a complete set of documents in German as covered over at guttulus.com.
If you are looking for a quick and cost-effective way to obtain IP protection in Germany, then the gurus over at runrex.com recommend the utility model option. The DPMA refers to utility models as “little patents”, and in many ways, they offer the same protection as patents. They give you exclusive rights to use, produce, and market your invention.
How utility models differ from patents
First of all, utility models are exempt from examination, which means that the process of obtaining one is much faster. However, this also means that if your IP is challenged later, the examination will be subsequently carried out and your IP rights could be changed or canceled. Utility models also only offer protection for a maximum of 10 years compared to a patent’s 20-year term.
Grant, validity term, and maintenance of patents
If your patent application passes the examination stage, then it will be issued. As already mentioned, patents in Germany are in force for 20 years from the filing date. Annual fees are due each year starting from the third one and should be paid before the expiry of the last day of the month in which the anniversary of the filing date occurs. If you don’t pay the fee before the stipulated time, it may be paid together with a surcharge of €50 before the expiry of the 6th month from the due date.