German Patent

What is a German patent?

A German patent is a protective right granted for inventions in all fields of technology.

Maximum term of protection

The maximum term of protection of a German patent is 20 years.

What can be protected?

Inventions can be protected provided that they are novel, involve an inventive step and are industrially applicable.

 Novel means that the invention does not form part of prior art. Prior art is constituted by all knowledge which has been made available to the public by means of a written or oral description, by use, or in any other way, before the filing date.

 Inventive step is substantiated if a skilled person is not able to derive the technical solution from prior art in an obvious manner.

 Inventions are industrially applicable if the subject-matter thereof can be produced or used in any field of industry inclusive of agriculture.

 Exceptions to patentability include, inter alia

  • discoveries and scientific theories and mathematical methods,
  • aesthetic creations,
  • plans, rules and methods for intellectual activities, for games or for business activities.

 Separate protective rights are partly available for said exceptions, e.g. designs. Software patents enjoy growing importance, i.e. patents granted for computer programs, which, however, necessitate discussion and consideration of the respectively current patenting requirements when preparing the application documents.

How can a German patent be filed?

A German patent application can be filed with the German Patent and Trademark Office (GPTO) or specific patent information centers. In many cases, it is recommendable to perform a patent novelty search prior to the filing in dependence on the chosen patent strategy and the costs to be expected.

Examination procedure

Upon request, the application is examined with respect to patentability, i.e. novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability. Said request has to be filed within and before the expiry of seven years as of the filing date of the application. Said request can also be filed by the applicant or any third party. Provided that novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability are substantiated, the patent will be granted by the GPTO.

In the instance that one of novelty or inventive step are not substantiated, the application will be rejected. In the course of the examination procedure it is possible to limit the claims by way of combining features and to delimit the same over prior art, so that the requirements with respect to novelty and inventive step are satisfied.