1. What is a German trademark?
A trademark is a sign for goods or services, which is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings.
A registered German trademark confers on its proprietor in the entire territory of the Federal Republic of Germany the right to prevent third parties, not having his consent, to use a sign, where, because of its identity with, or similarity to the trademark and the identity or similarity of the goods or services covered by the trademark and the sign, there exists a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public. I.e. the use of a sign may be prohibited if the opposing signs and the opposing goods or services are either identical or similar and there exists a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public. For more info, please contact one of our German trademark attorneys.
Trademark protection in Germany initially lasts for 10 years and may be renewed for 10 additional years as often as desired.
2. What may be subject to a German trademark registration?
The following signs can be registered as a trademark in Germany:
• Words, if they cannot be used to describe the goods or services for which protection is sought
• First names and last names
• Phonetic signs
• Three-dimensional forms including the shape of goods
• Figurative signs
• Colors and color combinations
The registration as a German trademark will be refused, where the trademark is devoid any distinctive character, or consists exclusively of terms that can serve to designate the kind, quality, quantity, intended purpose, value or geographical origin of the product/service.
Please note that it is sometimes difficult to assess, whether a trademark will be registered or refused. The case law on this topic is extensive and covers several volumes. In order to estimate the chances of registration of a trademark, we need to know the trademark name and the offered goods or services. Our German and European Trademark attorneys will be happy to advise you. Please contact us.
3. How do I apply for a German trademark?
A German trademark has to be registered at the German Patent and Trademark Office (GPTO). For more information, please refer to the “Guidelines for trademark applicants” issued by the GPTO. A trademark attorney is usually not necessary.
4. What follows after filing a trademark application?
After the trademark application has been received by the GPTO, the office examines, if the trademark does have distinctive character. Further, the GPTO examines, if the trademark is perceived by the public exclusively in a descriptive manner. If the Office finds that the trademark meets the requirements of the trademark regulations, the trademark application is published. Otherwise, the Office will issue an official notification including objections and sets a term for filing a response.
The term of protection of a trademark is unlimited. Every 10 years, starting from the filing date, a renewal fee has to be paid.
5. How much does a trademark application in Germany cost?
In addition to the official fees, a German trademark application typically incurs attorney fees for preparing a list of goods and services as well as for completing the application forms and filing the application documents with the GPTO. In addition, it is advisable to carry out a trademark search prior to filing an application or using a trademark in order to avoid a legal conflict with potential holders of earlier trademarks. Please contact us for an offer. Our European trademark attorneys are looking forward to hearing from you.