The competitive protection of technical inventions, designs and designations is possible by the following industrial property rights, which prohibit competitors from using these technical inventions, designs or designations. Which of these property rights – individually or in combination – are to be taken into consideration in individual cases must be determined individually before the background of the current state of development, the competitive situation and the financial possibilities of each enterprise. A patent application is always preceded by a preliminary search for possible known developments in order to exclude bad investments. The registration and prosecution of all mentioned property rights is part of our daily practice.
Patent – A patent is a property right on a technical invention (apparatus and / or method) that is officially examined for novelty and inventive step over the prior art and its industrial applicability. It has a maximum term of 20 years up from the filing date, provided that the annual maintenance fees are paid. Utility Model – A utility model is a property right on a technical invention (only apparatus possible), which is officially checked under formal aspects only. It has a maximum term of 10 years from the filing date, provided that the maintenance fees are paid after 3, 6 and 8 years. A grace period of 6 months is granted to the inventor, during which a publication by the inventor is held none prejudicial to novelty.
Trademark – A trademark is a property right on words, letters, numbers, pictures, colors and melodies, which is officially checked under formal aspects only. Public interest to freely use the trademark and/or descriptive indication of goods and services may exclude from registration. A trademark offers a minimum term of 10 years from the filing date, which may be renewed arbitrarily for another 10 years, provided that the maintenance fees are paid.
Design – Designs are protected by design patents, which grant a property right on an appearance of an object, i.e. its shape and color. It is the nature of the subject matter of significance that goes beyond the usual appearance. Designs have a maximum term of 25 years from the filing date, provided that the maintenance fees are paid every 5 years. Incidentally, the competition protection of artistic works is possible via the following property right, which arises ‘on its own’, ie does not require a special patent right.
Copyright – Copyright grants the creator of a literary, scientific or artistic work an exclusive right of exploitation. Especially computer programs are covered by copyright. The copyright arises with the creation of the work and shall expire 70 years after the author’s death before it will be publicly available.