You should patent your invention

A brief explanation of property rights


How can I protect my ideas?

Do you want to register with the DPMA?

We have now compiled the most important information for you in the tips for your registration.

Useful inventions, successful designs or memorable brand names can be very valuable economically. It is good if you protect your intellectual property from unwanted imitation!

Intellectual property and its protection is of enormous importance for business, science and research. In order to be able to keep up with international competition, companies have to convert their research and development results quickly and effectively into marketable products. To do this, you should first secure your innovations with industrial property rights.

There are various ways of protecting intellectual property - internationally known as intellectual property (IP). For all questions of commercial legal protection this is German Patent and Trademark Office the central contact in the Federal Republic.

Industrial property rights secure the Exclusivity Your creation: You alone decide who is allowed to use it when - and for what. You alone decide on the exploitation of your own development and can prohibit others from doing so. You alone have control over the potential commercial potential.

Here we give you a brief overview of the property rights for intellectual property that you can register at the German Patent and Trademark Office.

Which industrial property right comes into question?

  • Have you made a technical invention or developed a new process? Then you should consider Patent protection to apply.
  • Have you made a development that you want to protect very quickly? A Utility model- Signing up could be an attractive option.
  • Have you designed a new external shape and color for a product? Protect this design by registration with the DPMA!
  • If you want to protect the name of a product or service, you can use it as a brand register with us.
PatentsUtility modelBrandsregistered designsTopographies
protect...technical inventionstechnical inventions (except processes)the labeling of goods or services of a companyColor and shape of almost all industrially or handcrafted productsthree-dimensional structures of microelectronic semiconductor products
Requirements for protection- New
- inventive step
- commercially applicable
- executable
- New
- inventive step
- commercially applicable
- executable
- not just a description of the service or goods
- distinctive
- Novelty and individuality- Eigenart (not a mere replica of another topography)
Protection begins ...with the publication of the grant in the patent gazettewith the entry in the registerwith the filing date,
which is awarded with the entry of the trademark in the register
with the entry in the registerdepending on whether the topography has already been used for business purposes (see Section 5 of the Semiconductor Protection Act)
maximum runtime20 yearsten yearscan be extended indefinitely (every 10 years)25 yearsten years

Do your research carefully

Regardless of which property right might be of interest to you - it is important that you find out about existing property rights in your area before registering:

  • How is the State of the art in the area in which I made an invention? Is it really new?
  • Maybe there is brand names already that I want to register?
  • If I am violating the property rights of someone else who already owns a design registered with the DPMA?

You must know: Only applications for patents are examined in terms of content by the DPMA. On the other hand, utility model and design registrations are only examined from a formal point of view. In the case of trademarks, the trademark office checks whether the trademark is protectable. However, it does not check whether there are any earlier registered trademarks. A comprehensive check for protectability only takes place if a third party challenges your trademark, design or utility model.

If you research (or have researched) thoroughly before registering, you can minimize the risk of violating someone else's existing property right. You can also reduce the risk of your entry being contested and deleted because of an older state of the art or other protection barriers.

Where can I find advice and support?

The DPMA offers you a wide range of opportunities to find out more about industrial property rights - for example on this website, which summarizes all the important information. We have also put together various brochures on property rights that you can download as a PDF document.
Of course, our central customer service is also available to you as a contact person - by phone, email or in person at our locations in Munich, Berlin and Jena.

In our databases you can get an initial overview of whether your invention is really new or whether your desired brand name is perhaps already protected. Our customer service provides initial support for such research.

In most cases - especially when reliable research results are required - it is advisable to seek professional help with the research. You can also get this kind of advice and support with research in advance of registrations from our regional cooperation partners, the Patent information centers. They carry out research on behalf of their customers. Such search requests are also accepted by patent attorneys and commercial patent reporters.

Second part of the short introduction

A brief portrait of the industrial property rights: Further introductory information on patents, trademarks, etc.

Photo 1: DPMA, Photo 2:

Status: March 18, 2021