Successfully protecting trademarks & designs

With a trademark, you label and protect your goods or services, for example through characteristic words, images, or sounds. A design protects the shape and color of your two- or three-dimensional product. Both IP rights create clear distinguishing features that set you apart from your competitors’ offerings. Find out about how you can benefit from trademarks and designs!

Good trademarks and designs are memorable, make your product unmistakable, and ensure your company’s success in the long term. A trademark consists, for example, of characteristic words, letters, numbers, images, colors, or even sounds.

Trademark & design protection: the essentials

The trademark application process

The German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) is responsible for trademark applications in Germany. Applications can be filed online or conventionally in paper form. Certain minimum information must be provided for the applicant, the trademark required, and the list of goods and services. 

The German Patent and Trademark Office examines this information carefully. Importantly, the application will only be processed once you have paid the application fee in full (for up to three classes of goods and/or services: 300 euros, for electronic registration: 290 euros).

In the next step, the German Patent and Trademark Office examines whether there are any grounds for refusal. These could be, for example, descriptive information (e.g. “apple” for fruit) or a lack of distinctiveness. If there are no grounds for refusal and all legal requirements are met, the German Patent and Trademark Office enters the trademark in the register and publishes the registration in the electronic trademark journal (“Markenblatt”). As the trademark owner, you receive a certificate of registration. The term of protection of a registered trademark is ten years and at the end of this term you can – for a renewal fee – extend this protection for another ten years. There is no limit on how many times a trademark can be renewed.

You can find more information on the trademark application procedure in Germany on the website of the German Patent and Trademark Office.

If you need protection for your trademark in all EU countries, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) is the place to go. The protection requirements and the procedure from application to registration of your trademark are similar to those at the German Patent and Trademark Office. You can find all further information on the EUIPO website.

Design protection – Monopoly on product design

When products hardly differ from each other in terms of function, an attractive product design becomes especially important. This is why protecting the design against counterfeit and copying is crucial for economic success.

Design protection essentially arises as a purely formal right through registration in the register of the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA). The extent to which the design is then legally valid and meets the necessary protection requirements has to be clarified in the event of a dispute.

It is therefore important to check the protection requirements of novelty and individual character of the design yourself before applying for a design. It is equally important to precisely define the design’s scope of protection in the application.

Amazon Brands

Many companies or individual suppliers use the online mail order company Amazon.com to market their products. Some even make their products available to consumers through this channel alone.

To help sellers maintain control over their product listings and better protect their intellectual property, Amazon.com has introduced the Amazon Brand Registry program. By also registering their already registered trademark in the Amazon Brand Registry, trademark owners record themselves as the owner of the trademark, thereby proactively protecting their trademark. Registration not only gives trademark owners a certain degree of regulatory power, but also promotes consumer confidence in the registered product.

Our start-up consultation

Get to know us!

Find out about our services and about the potential to protect your ideas under intellectual property law! Our attorneys will be happy to show you the general direction in which your idea can go and discuss further possible steps on your path to applying for IP rights.

Our prices for start-ups

From earnings to expenditure, from financial assistance to fixed costs: anyone who wants to get their own business off the ground needs a high degree of reliability in their calculations. We can offer you that. We offer fair start-up package prices for the combinations of research, IP right applications, and other IP-related services that are typically relevant for start-ups. That’s how the business plan works, too.

FAQs / Marken & Designs

The basic fee for filing a German trademark application at the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) is 300 euros (or 290 euros for online applications) and covers three classes of goods or services. There may be additional fees on top of this (e.g. for extra classes, renewal, etc.). We offer package prices for the application and all other services at fair start-up conditions, which we will be happy to provide you with on request. These include both the official fees and our fees for preparing your application.

Keep an eye on the market and your competitors! You can search for information on trademarks already applied for in databases such as TMView or DPMAregister. Information about legal status and the status of any legal proceedings, as well as publication data are also available. We will be happy to conduct a more in-depth analysis, for example in the form of FTO (“Freedom to Operate”) searches for you.

Even as a layperson, you can apply for a trademark. Like patents, however, there are important things to consider. For example, a trademark name should be concise and easy to pronounce, and it should apply to the product to be named without describing it directly. What this might look like in practice always depends on the product or service category, the competitive environment, and other factors. Once a trademark has been registered, it cannot be changed later. It is therefore a good idea to consult the right experts when filing a trademark application.

After our initial consultation, we need around one to two weeks to prepare your trademark application. If there are no grounds for refusal, the office will register the trademark within three to six months.

In an initial consultation, we discuss what makes your brand stand out, to which group of goods or services it belongs, what goals you wish to achieve with it, and which markets in Germany and/or abroad you would like to serve. With the help of this information, we can make an initial assessment of whether your trademark can be registered. If it can, we will take care of the application with the relevant offices. Throughout the entire process – from the initial consultation to the filing of your trademark application and gladly beyond – we are there to advise you.

Watch the market and your competitors! This way you will see how your company is positioned and which IP rights could stand in your way. Databases such as TMView or DPMAregister are excellent research tools specifically for trademarks. For a more in-depth analysis, for example in the form of FTO (“Freedom to Operate”) searches, we will be happy to assist you with our expertise.

As soon as you are sure that you want to use a trademark for your product or service – i.e. you expect to gain a competitive advantage in certain markets – you should apply for a trademark. Unlike a patent, however, the product or service does not have to be new when applying for a trademark.

A trademark that is to the point and memorable is a good starting point for your product or service to assert itself in the market. You can prevent competitors from using a trademark registered in the trademark register and thus gain the edge in the battle for customers and market share. In Germany, there is a particularly effective IP system in place that gives you very good chances of enforcing your trademark in court in the event of a dispute.

In addition to the basic fee of 300 euros (or 290 euros for an online application), renewal fees of at least 750 euros will be due after ten years (valid for three classes of goods or services). We offer package prices for the application and all other services at fair start-up conditions, which we will be happy to provide you with on request. These include both the official fees and our fees for preparing your application. Monitoring the offices’ deadlines is naturally also part of our service. So you can be sure that you will not incur any extra fees.

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