National German patents
In Germany, patents and utility models can be obtained as technical protection rights.
A patent which will be substantively examined can be applied for in three ways: by filing a German national application, a European patent application designating Germany or by filing an international (PCT) patent application that designates Germany. Each of these three possibilities has its own advantages. Especially in cases where the application is a first filling and will be a starting point for establishing an international protection portfolio, a German national application is highly cost effective due to the fast and accurate feedback from the German Patent and Trademark Office and its examiners, in particular with regard to the novelty and inventiveness of the invention.
Application for a German Patent
In order to obtain a German patent, an application can be filed in any language; however, a German language translation has to be provided within 3 months of filing.
German national patents are examined protection rights with a 20 year patent term. Priority can be claimed within 12 months from the first filing in Germany or abroad, and applications are published after 18 months from the first filing date. After the decision to grant a patent, a three-month opposition period follows. During this opposition period, any third party can file an opposition against the patent before the German Patent and Trademark Office (GPTO). After this opposition period, or after an opposition proceeding is settled, nullity actions can be filed with the German Federal Patent Court (Bundespatentgericht).
As in other jurisdictions, examination of the German national application can be requested upon filing. However, different from other jurisdictions, this request can be postponed for up to 7 years from the filing date. Accordingly, a German national patent application can be easily kept “on hold” with the possibility of proceeding at any time within these 7 years.
In view of the similar examination proceedings between the GPTO and the European Patent Office (EPO), and in view of the fact that the technical qualification and examination experience of the German examiners is of a high standard, the German national route can be very attractive to applicants.