1. What is a German design patent?
A German design patent is an exclusive right which protects the two- or three-dimensional aesthetic design of a product, resulting from its visible features, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and/or materials.
Holders of a registered design patent have exclusive rights to use the design and to prevent any third party from using it anywhere within the territory of protection. The rights cover, in particular, the making, offering, marketing, importing, exporting or use of a product in which the design is incorporated or to which it is applied, or holding stock of such a product for those purposes.
The effect of the design patent Germany covers both, deliberate copying and the independent development of a similar design.
A German design patent is initially valid for 5 years from the date of filing and can be renewed in periods of five years up to a maximum of 25 years.
Please note that the registered illustrations of the product determine the level of protection. Further, the protection only refers to the visible features of the registered illustration. It is therefore of utmost importance to file appropriate illustrations with the Patent Office. Failure to do so may result in that the design rights may not be fully enforced against competitors.
2. What can be registered as a design patent in Germany?
Any two-dimensional or three-dimensional appearance of a product, or of a part of it, can be protected. A product can be any industrial or handicraft item, including packaging, equipment, graphic symbols and typographic characters and items that can be assembled into a complex product. A computer program is not considered as a product. The design of a product must not be based on the technical function or the purpose of use of a product. I.e., designs that are considered to be dictated exclusively by the technical function of a product cannot be protected.
A design can only be protected, when the design is new and has individual character.
A design shall be considered to be new if no identical design has been made available to the public. Please note that an own publication of the design up to 12 months before the filing date of the design application will not be considered in assessing novelty (grace period), so that the design is new despite of your own publication.
A design has individual character if the overall impression it produces on the informed user differs from the overall impression produced on such a user by any design which has been made available to the public. The overall impression only needs to be slightly different from that of any existing design. A special creative achievement shall not be required. For more information, please contact one of our German patent attorneys in Munich.
The scope of the protection conferred by a design patent shall include any design which does not produce on the informed user a different overall impression
Please feel free to contact us if you have any question about design patent in Germany or design applications. Our German design patent attorneys in Munich will be pleased to advise you.
3. How can I register a German design patent?
A German design has to be filed with the GPTO.
You can file a multiple application including up to 100 design models if the individual products all belong to the same product class. Otherwise separate applications have to be filed.
4. What happens after filing of the design application?
Design applications are only checked for formalities. There is no substantive examination for earlier rights. Unlike the trademark system, there is no opposition procedure.
The design application will be examined and if the Office finds that the formal requirements are met, the design is registered and published. If the application does not meet the formal requirements an objection will be raised.
With the registration of the design in the official Designs Register the proprietor of the design obtains full design protection.
Please note that a design will be registered even if the design is not new and has no individual character. In that case, however, the registration does not have any legal effect, but is only a pseudo registration from which no rights can be derived. The validity of the design is usually not assessed until litigation proceedings or revocation proceedings take place. I.e. the holder of a design registration has to take a significant risk that it turns out that the design is actually not valid.
5. How much is a design application?
In addition to the official fees, a design application typically incurs attorney fees for preparing a list of goods as well as for completing the application forms and filing the application documents with the Patent Office. An application including one model may amount to about 600 €; for an application including 6 models, cost of about 1.000 € have to be expected. Please contact us for an individual offer. Our patent attorneys and trademark attorneys in Munich are looking forward to hearing from you.