Trademark Protection in Germany
Trade mark protection in Germany arises from registration of a trademark applied for in the DPMAregister. Trade mark protection may also arise from the level of recognition acquired due to intensive use of a sign in trade or by its general reputation.
In addition to individual trademarks, trademark protection in Germany is also available for a certification mark.
|Relevant office||German Patent and Trademark Office. Deutsche Patent- und Markenamt (DPMA)|
|Multi class system||Yes|
|Documents required for filing a trade mark application||Name and address of the applicant, sample of the mark, list of goods and/or services.|
|Prosecution process||Filing, Examination, publication of the mark in the trade mark journal opposition(within 3 months after the publication date), registration, renewal|
|Registration term||10 years|
|Renewal term||10 years|
Trademark Search in Germany
It is advisable to conduct a trademark search prior to filing a trademark application, in order to ascertain the availability of trademarks, existence of prior identical/similar marks on the DPMAregister, so as to avoid any objection and opposition with respect to the mark in future.A trademark search in Germany can be conducted for word marks, numeral and Keywords. A free Trade mark search can be conducted for German Trademarks in DPMA Register. In DPMA register/Trade marks you can also search European Union trade marks (EM) and international registrations of marks (IR) enjoying protection in Germany. Link for conducting search on database of DPMA: https://register.dpma.de/DPMAregister/marke/uebersicht
It is advisable to conduct a comprehensive trademark clearance search in Germany to ascertain availability of the proposed mark and also to overcome any objection and opposition with respect to the mark later on.
Along with trademark search, it is also advisable to do a comprehensive company search and domain search of the proposed trademark in Germany. It is advisable to conduct a comprehensive search for a figuration trademark. The device marks include individual marks such as stylized letters, numerals, shapes, plants, celestial bodies, living creatures etc. or combination of marks containing device marks. A device mark search in Germany can be conducted amongst the marks filed and registered as per the Vienna code classification.
An applicant can apply for multi-class or single class trademark application in Germany.
Trademark application can be filed under two categories, as under:
- Ordinary Applications
- Convention application (claiming priority from a convention country)
Ordinary application in Germany
Ordinary trademark applications filed in Germany are applications that do not claim any priority. There are three ways to apply for trademarks in Germany:
- DPMAdirektWeb – the fast way to an online filing with shopping cart function for goods and services (available in German only). They guide you through the web application allowing you to apply for your trade mark in a fast and low-cost way, without investing much time and effort.
- DPMAdirektPro – electronic application with signature card. If you choose this filing option, you need their free special software, a qualified signature card and a card reader.
- paper-based application with the forms for a national trade mark application.
Priority/Convention trademark applications in Germany
A priority trademark application may be filed in Germany. A priority trademark application should be filed in Germany within 6 months after the date on which the application was made in the convention country.
Paris ConventionThe Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, signed in Paris, France, on March 20, 1883, established a Union for the protection of industrial property. It offers national treatment to the applicant residing in the member country of the union, in other words. National treatment is a very important concept and is essential for successfully achieving the fundamental aim of the Paris Convention. The idea is to provide equal treatment to applications from member countries, in a given member country and not to differentiate between the nationals of member countries for the purpose of grant, and protection of industrial property. Priority application can be filed in Germany within six months of after the date on which the application was made in the Convention Countries.
Trademark classes for goods and services
The German Patent and Trademark Office follows the Nice Classification that groups together similar goods or services into 45 different classes. Classes 1 to 34 are assigned for the goods and classes 35 to 45 are assigned for the services.
Further details regarding the filing of trademark applications can be accessed on the Trademark Registry’s website of Germany at the following link: https://www.dpma.de/english/trade_marks/application/index.html
Trademark Examination in Germany
During the preliminary examination of the trademark application, the Trade Mark Sections of the German Patent and Trade Mark Office ensure that all requisite data have been filled and received. Then, the Trade Mark Sections examines, whether the trade mark applied for could be excluded from registration on absolute grounds of refusal?The DPMA examines the trade mark application for absolute grounds for refusal. Absolute grounds for refusal are for example:
- lack of distinctiveness
- descriptive terms that must be kept freely available for general use
- danger of deceiving the public
- an emblem of state included in the trade mark
- offence against public policy or accepted principles of morality
Signs will not be registered, if they do not determine the clear and precise subject matter of protection and, above all, signs will not be registered if they lack any distinctiveness or if they merely describe the goods and services concerned.There is no right to registration in these cases, even if the same or a similar trade mark has already been registered in the Trade Mark Register at an earlier date. The decision in each individual case is taken on the basis of the Trade Mark Act (Markengesetz) alone. If the application complies with the legal requirements and if there are no grounds for refusal, the DPMA enters the trade mark in the Register. The registration is published in the (Markenblatt). The proprietor receives a certificate of registration.
Trademark Opposition in GermanyAfter the publication of newly registered trade mark, the proprietors of earlier trade marks can file a notice of opposition against the registration. Notice of opposition must be filed in writing within three months after the publication of the trademark. Opposition can also be raised on the basis of earlier rights to signs acquired by use (“trade marks acquired through use” and commercial designations). Furthermore, it is possible to invoke rights arising from the enlarged protection for well-known trade marks in Germany (Sec. 42(2) Trade Mark Act [Markengesetz]). However, this provision only applies to oppositions raised against the registration of trade marks applied for on or after 1 October 2009.
Trademark Registration and Renewal in GermanyA trademark is registered in Germany for a duration of 10 years + one month from the date on which trademark was filed. For example, if a trademark application is filed on May 05, 2017 then its registration will end on May 31, 2027. The renewal will take effect on the day following the expiry of the duration of protection.