General Information

General Information about Patents in Europe and Germany

Patents are technical intellectual property rights having in Europe and Germany a maximal term of protection of 20 years beginning from the filing date. A European patent or German patent can protect substances, apparatus, methods and uses of technical devices, as long as they are novel, based on an inventive step and industrially applicable. It is also possible to protect computer programs in Europe and Germany by a patent provided that the program causes a technical effect or solves a technical problem using technical means. Inventions in the area of medicine and medical engineering can be covered by a patent in Europe and Germany under particular requirements.

An important requirement for grant of a patent is novelty. The invention must not be published, presented, distributed or the like, before filing a patent application in Europe or Germany. The invention may only be presented or distributed to persons or organisations bound by a non disclosure agreement. Neither the European Patent Convention nor the German Patent Act provides a grace period for patents, as is provided in the USA, Japan, Russian Federation and Canada for an example.

A European or German patent application is published 18 month after the filing date. For maintaining patent applications renewal fees must be paid. Within 12 month after filing an application in almost any state, a European or German patent application can be filed by claiming the priority of this application. Of course, up to 12 month after filing a European or German patent application, a patent application or utility model can be filed in almost any other state claiming the priority of the European or German application.

Further information with regard to, for example, maintenance fees, third party objections, opposition proceedings, and infringement proceedings are available upon request.