Trademark Registration in Germany - Easy and Convenient
Register a Trademark in GermanyUpdated on Saturday 18th September 2021
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The protection of trademarks in Germany falls under the regulations of the Trademark Act. Commercial designations and indications of geographical origin are also protected by the Trademark Act in Germany.
According to the Trademark Act, a trademark is any sign, word, number, letter, sound mark and three-dimensional designs employed to represent the goods or services of a German company and distinguish them from another company’s goods or services. Trademark protection occurs after the sign is registered with the Register of the Patent Office in Germany. Both companies and citizens are allowed to file a petition for trademark registration in Germany.
What are the requirements for trademark registration in Germany?
The registration of trademarks is made by submitting an application with the Patent Office in Germany. Additionally to the prescribed application form that must be filled out, the following information are also requested:
- the identity of the applicant,
- a representation of the German trademark to be registered,
- a list with the goods or services the trademark will represent,
- a registration fee which must be paid upon registration.
Our lawyers in Germany can conduct the trademark registration procedure thorough power of attorney.
The trademark registration procedure in Germany
Once all documents are submitted, the German Patent Office will examine the trademark application, if the application respects all legal requirements, if the fees have been paid and whether the applicant is entitled to register the trademark. If all requirements are met, the Patent Office will allow the registration of the trademark and then publish it in the Official Gazette. The trademark will remain published for three months, time in which anyone considering the registration may harm them can file an opposition to the registration of the German trademark.
If no one opposes the registration of the trademark, the Patent Office will register the trademark. The German Trademark Act grants a 10-year protection period. Upon expiry, the protection period may be renewed for another 10 years.
What is a distinctive trademark in Germany?
There are several requirements regarding the creation and registration of a distinctive trademark in Germany. Some are market requirements that you must take into consideration for a successful business, other refer to legal requirements imposed by the authorities. Our lawyers are willing to help you with professional advice on how to create a distinctive trademark in Germany.
When you open a company in Germany, or if you already have a successful enterprise you might be interested to register a trademark for it. Some of the main aspects that you have to take into account when you start elaborating a trademark refer to the clarity of the sign and in its capacity to communicate effectively. Any interpretable allusions and possible adverse connotations that might create confusion are to be avoided.
Another important element to keep in mind is that the trademark needs to look well on a variety of advertising media, from banners to smartphones. This adaptability of your trademark and its suitability for a larger variety of media is going to increase audience and to bring you an increase in returns.
One of the most important things that must be found in a trademark is originality. When you are interested in trademark registration in Germany trademark needs to be distinct from competitive products, and to be designed in order to produce a powerful impact, and hard to forget impression on your target public. It is recommendable to take into consideration as well the local preferences and business culture. If you have already elaborated your distinctive trademark, our German lawyers are ready to assist you with its registration and its release on the market as soon as possible.
According to the Company Act and to the German legislation, in order to be officially recognized, any trademark must be registered at the Trademark Department of the German Patent and Trademark Office. Subsequently your proposition is going through a verification procedure. The evaluators are going to check the distinctiveness of your trademark, and the whole process might take up to 6 months.
If your trademark passes the evaluation it is going to be published in Markenblatt, thus certifying its recognition. The trademark which has been recognized is going to be valid for 10 years, with the possibility for renewal.
How to file for trademark opposition in Germany?
As mentioned above, one of the steps of the trademark registration procedure in Germany is to publish the trademark in the Official Gazette for three months. During these three months anyone with previous rights or with valid reasons to contest the registration of the trademark may file an opposition. The period for trademark opposition in Germany cannot exceed the three months period.
A trademark opposition is usually filed by owners of previously registered trademarks or owners of other registered intellectual property rights. Trademark opposition in Germany must be submitted in writing. In order to file for trademark opposition a fee of 250 euros must be paid.
You can rely on our attorneys if you want to file for trademark registration in Germany or opposition.
What are the stages of trademark opposition in Germany?
Once the trademark opposition fee is paid and the application submitted, the opponent must prove that he or she has valid reasons to contest the registration of the trademark. The opponent must file a statement that shows how the trademark registration would affect him or her and must submit a statement of the reasons for opposing the registration.
Contrary to other countries where the contested party must submit an answer to the opposition, in Germany no counter-statement must be submitted. The applicant for trademark registration may file a counter-statement only if he or she considers so.
A settlement between parties is usually reached when a trademark opposition is submitted. However, if no settlement is reached, the opponent and the applicant must file evidence that supports the opposition, respectively the registration of the trademark. Based on all evidence, the German Trademark Office will make a decision whether to grant or deny the registration of the mark.
Trademark opposition may be appealed to the Trademark Office or to the German Federal Patent Court, according to the Trademark Act.
Reasons to cancel a trademark in Germany
As seen above, the trademark opposition is a complex process that can result in an effective ban on using a certain trademark. Even if an individual completed the process of trademark registration in Germany, that mark can be opposed and the opposer may have sufficient arguments to cancel the use. However, another situation may apply when a trademark can be cancelled because of invalidity or revocation.
Our team lists below the main reasons why a trademark in Germany can be subject to cancellation:
- Surrender: a trademark can be cancelled in Germany because the proprietor has surrendered it; this can happen at any time, even if the trademark registration in Germany has not been opposed;
- Invalidity due to improper registration: the registration is invalid and cancelled when there are absolute grounds for refusal, when the mark was registered contrary to the Trade Mark Act;
- Invalidity due to previous rights: the cancellation can take place when there were earlier rights on the same mark; supporting documentation is mandatory when such as claim is made;
- Invalidity due to conflicting earlier rights: the registration can be revoked and cancelled where there were previous rights on it or upon request when it was not used within 5 years after registration.
The fees for trademark registration in Germany
Applicants are required to pay a fee when registering a trademark which consists of the basic fee, as well as any additional class fees, as per the particularities of their application. Below, our lawyers list a number of payable fees:
- 300 euros for the basic application fee which includes up to three classes of goods or services;
- 290 euros is the reduced cost for the basic application, when electronic filing is used;
- 100 euros is the fee for any additional classes of goods and/or services, in addition to the three included in the basic fee (if the applicant wishes to apply fora fourth, fifth of any other number of classes)
- 200 euros the fee for accelerated trademark examination; when this fee is paid, the application will be granted priority;
- 750 euros for the renewal fee for up to three classes.
Please remember that these fees were valid at the time this article was written and they can be subject to change. We advise you to reach out to us before you decide to apply for trademark registration so that one of our agents can give you updated information.
Collective trademarks and indications of geographical origin
A collective mark is used to indicate the member of an organization, and such as mark is registered by and is the property of the said organization. For a collective mark, the cost for registration is 900 euros for the basic type and an additional 150 euros for each additional class. The cost of renewal is 1,800 euros, with a surcharge of 50 euros for late payment.
The indications of geographical origin are used for the protection of foods and other agricultural products. This is an intellectual property right that applies at the level of Europe and it is subject to EU Regulation no. 1151/2012. Germany implements these decisions in specific sections of the Trade Mark Act. There are two categories of protection in this case, the protected designations of origin, or PDO, for example, in case of cheese, and the protected geographical indications, or PGI, for example in cases of sausages. Entrepreneurs who want to benefit from the protection according to geographical indication need to be closely linked on the region for which the protection is required (all the production steps need to take place in the respective location). As in the case of trademark registration in Germany, the application for registration in case of a geographical indication or designation of origin is submitted to the German Patent and Trademark Office.
Observing the general process for trademark protection in Germany is easier with our help. Our team can help you submit the application in a timely manner and oppose to a registration, if this is the case. The German Patent and Trade Mark Office is not the one to check if there are other registered trademarks similar or identical to the submitted one. It will only check that the proposed mark is compliant and not subject to the definite grounds for refusal (lack of distinctiveness, deceiving, using an emblem of the state, offensive or using descriptive terms that are to be kept freely available for general use). Therefore, as an applicant, one has the responsibility to make sure that he follows all of the needed steps and submit a correct application to ensure its success.
For complete details about trademark registration in Germany and intellectual property laws please contact our German law firm.