German Patent Application
A German patent covers the territory of Germany, wherein the German market is one of the strongest if not the strongest in the European Union. Therefore, it is advisable to have patent protection in Germany.
Examination of the application can be requested when filing the application. An advantage particularly for small and medium sized companies is that the request for search of prior art and examination is not compulsory when filing the application and can be postponed for up to 7 years after the filing date.
The proceedings at the German Patent and Trademark Office (GPTO) located in Munich are from a procedural point of view less strict compared to proceedings with the European Patent Office EPO which is particularly advantageous for small and medium sized companies. Of course, the invention is only protected after a patent is granted after examination. Moreover, a divisional application for a German patent application can be filed up to one month after grant of a patent, being a particular advantage when a further aspect of the invention turns out to be relevant.
The time limit for entering national phase in Germany of a PCT application is 30 months. A German translation of the application has to be filed upon entering national phase. More information about patent filings in Germany can be obtained from the section foreign filing in Europe and Germany.
European Patent Application
European patent applications are examined by the European Patent Office (EPO) having its headquater in Munich/Germany.
A European patent application provides the advantage that by a single central proceeding, patent protection for the invention in all countries of the European Union and additional countries can be achieved. Thereby, costs for translations and attorneys can be cut.
If it is intended to file an international patent application in the future, it is advisable for a company having its registered office in Europe to file a European application as first filing, since the costs of a European patent application are lower compared to an international patent application, and the search fee for the European patent application is refunded, if the international search is carried out by the European Patent Office. Furthermore, it is advisable to file the European patent application in English in order to avoid unnecessary translation costs, if the European patent shall be in force in as many states as possible and translations shall be filed in as few states as possible.
During examination and before grant of a European patent, a German utility model can be branched off for enforcement against potential infringers in Germany.