How am I an inventor

info Guide for inventors

The matter is clear: You can discover laws, natural phenomena or new planets. But try to apply for a patent for a new constant. An invention is a device or process based on the intellectual accomplishment of a developer. The thing must have grown on its "own crap", so to speak. It is his intellectual property. If the invention can also be used commercially, it can be legally protected. This is done by filing an application with the patent office - in different forms depending on the type of invention.
There is a good reason for this. Because the development of a technology is usually very complex. It costs time and money that hardly anyone would invest if everyone could take advantage of the result.

What are the differences between patent, trademark, utility model and design?

The patent is a document that certifies that the inventor is the sole owner of his invention. This means that nobody is allowed to build, sell or otherwise use them without their consent.
The invention is carefully examined by the experts at the German Patent and Trademark Office according to various criteria. After grant, the patent is initially valid for three years. Thereafter, annual fees are due to extend the patent protection to a maximum of twenty years. After this period the patent expires automatically and the content becomes common property.

The utility model is the faster and cheaper variant of patenting. The extensive examination by the patent office does not take place before, but after the application. As with the patent, the protection is initially valid for three years. It can be extended to a maximum of ten years. Due to the shortened procedure, however, the utility model is not as secure as the patent and can be more easily challenged under patent law by other inventors of similar technologies. Technical and chemical processes cannot be protected as utility models.

The brand is the "calling card" of a service or a product on the market. This can be a company logo, lettering, certain words and numbers or even a special sound. Once registered, the trademark is protected for ten years and can be renewed for a further ten years at the end of this period.

The registered design (previously registered design) concerns the so-called appearance of a product. It includes the individual lines, contours, colors, the shape, surface structure and the material of the product to be protected or certain product parts. Graphic symbols can also be protected. A registered design is protected for 25 years if the five-year fees are paid.

What should be considered during the application process?

There is a ready-made application form for applying for a patent at the German Patent and Trademark Office. The application must be accompanied by documents describing the invention. Clarity and accuracy are particularly important. Based on these documents, an expert should be able to understand the invention and recognize its novelty. In contrast to many other official applications, the application must be submitted to the patent office in full and fully prepared. You can't hand in anything there. It is therefore advisable to always seek advice from a patent attorney before filing a patent application.

The German Patent and Trademark Office differentiates between an electronic application and an application in paper form. A patent application with up to 10 claims costs 40 euros. A paper patent application with up to 10 claims costs 60 euros.

A user wrote to us about the power of attorney regulation at the DPMA: "Since lawyers and patent attorneys, among other things, do not have to submit a written power of attorney, the regulation can be used to the detriment of the client in the case of a general power of attorney for several registrations by so-called black sheep of the professional group. Therefore, I recommend to always work with individual powers of attorney. "


A novelty is something that clearly stands out from the current state of the art. This means that neither the patent office nor the public must be aware of anything comparable.

Inventive achievement

In order to turn an idea into an invention, however, it takes more than just an inconspicuous improvement of an already existing product. There is an inventive achievement if not every other skilled person would have come up with the same idea without further ado. Inventions are divided into two categories. Those of the first degree of innovation represent significant improvements or additions to existing products. Those of the second degree of innovation are completely new inventions that are not obviously derived from already existing products or ideas.

Commercial usability

In order to have an invention protected as a patent, it must be commercially usable. In principle, this applies to every technical innovation, but excludes certain inventions. For example, medical surgical methods and treatment methods are more difficult to patent. The patenting of dangerous or immoral inventions is also excluded.

Does my invention already exist?

Researching existing licenses, patents and registrations that could lead to your application being rejected is very time-consuming. However, it can save many problems and bring new knowledge. It is also important to explore the state of the art. Is the invention really new, or is there already something comparable? In addition to the different countries and languages, the various patent classes play a role. The help of a specialist should be sought here. In patent issuing offices and patent information centers there is professional help for an initial overview. The service is partially chargeable. A full search for technical or content-related overlaps in the vast number of already registered patents costs around 250 euros at the patent office and, in the best case, takes four months. However, patent attorneys or specialist firms can also be commissioned.

Where is the patent application filed?

The patent application is submitted to the German Patent and Trademark Office based in Munich. Applications for patents, trademarks, utility models and designs can be downloaded from this link.

German Patent and Trademark Office
Zweibrückenstrasse 12
80331 Munich
Tel .: (089) 21 95-0
Fax: (089) 21 95-22 21

Mail: [email protected]

Until 2013 the "Design Law" regulated how the design of products, clothing, fonts and other things can be protected from imitation.

The name of the law suggests that it was a bit old. In fact, it was actually the oldest industrial property right in force in Germany: It dates back to 1867.

In 2014, the time for modernization had come. The "Design Act" became the "Design Act" - and the "Registered Design" became the "Registered Design".