German Patent Application

A German patent is compared to a European patent a cost efficient intellectual property right, which covers “only” the Federal Republic of Germany, which is approximately 18 % of the population of the European Union and approximately 21 % of the GNP (gross national product) of the European Union. Grant of a German patent has the same requirements and a German patent can protect the same subject matter as mentioned in the section general information about patents.

Deutsches Patentamt Deutsches Museum

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. This is also an interesting option for larger companies, if it is not known how the invention will be implemented in practice. The applicant can decide by filing the request for examination with the appropriate timing how fast a patent is granted for the invention. 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. Further thereto, the German Patent and Trademark Office does not impose overly formal requirements concerning unity of the invention compared to the European Patent Office, which tries to charge the applicant additional search fees with overly formal considerations. 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 (since 1 April 2010 the European Patent Office restricts the right of the applicant to file a divisional application).

Of course, the language of proceedings at the GPTO is German. However, it is possible to file an application in any language and to submit a translation thereof within a term of three months. 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.

Since it is possible to postpone the request for examination by up to seven years and to file a divisional application at any stage of the proceedings up to one month after grant, a German patent application is a considerable alternative or supplement to a European patent application. Furthermore, a German patent application causes significantly lower official fees compared to a European patent application. Of course it is possible to file a German patent application and a European patent application for the same subject matter in order to keep all options open.