Patent - What is that?
Patents are property rights to protect technical inventions. An extensive worldwide system of rights enables you, as an inventor or patent applicant, to obtain patent protection for your invention across the world. Patent offices which are responsible for the filing of applications for and the examination of patents exist in almost all countries.
Patent protection - How long?
In Germany and Europe, as in many other countries, a patent has a maximum term of 20 years from the date on which the application is filed. For this period, a patent grants you a monopoly which you can employ to prohibit competitors from using the technology protected by the patent.
How to get patent protection?
For a patent to be secured, first a patent application must be filed at a patent office. Our patent attorneys are experts in drafting patent applications which protect inventions as effectively as possible, in close consultation with our clients. Then, the patent applications are filed at the patent office. To obtain protection in Germany, the relevant offices are the German Patent and Trademark Office and the European Patent Office. However, the filing of a patent application does not result in an invention becoming directly available to the public; more likely, the patent application is published 18 months later. The patent applicant can use this period to develop its invention further and improve it without competitors finding out about it.
The applicant can obtain initial information from the patent office about the scope of protection that may potentially be achieved even during this 18-month period. This important information allows the strategy for extending the protection to be tailored to the circumstances. Following the conclusion of the patent grant proceedings, the patent is granted. From that point in time, applications for injunctive relief and often also claims for damages can be brought against competitors who infringe the patent.
Patent protection abroad?
After the patent application has been filed, the patent applicant has a period of twelve months to decide whether, and to what extent, patent applications are to be filed in respect of the same invention in foreign countries. This period should be used intensively to analyze the economic potential of the invention and to determine the acceptable costs for a portfolio of property rights. In this context, we use our expertise to help in the assessment of a property right’s potential.
And what about costs?
Depending on the applicant’s needs, there are a variety of legal tools for controlling costs in connection with the filing of patent applications. For example, patent application procedures can be drawn out for as long as it remains unclear whether the technology to be patented actually achieves a significance which justifies corresponding costs. Furthermore, the international patent system is configured in such a way that patents do not need to be re-examined in all countries.
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