Patents are granted for inventions, which are defined as follows: they must be new, based on an invention and commercially exploitable. A patent grants the inventor the right, for a specified period of time, to prevent others from using, manufacturing, selling or importing his invention. In return, the inventor must disclose the details of his invention in a patent specification which must be made publicly available.
As with a patent, anything registered as a utility model must be new, based on an invention and must be commercially exploitable. It can be quicker and more cost-effective to register a utility model than a patent. However, registration of a utility model takes place without it being checked for novelty or whether it constitutes an act of invention. Thus it is possible that the rights to a registered utility model may be fictitious and cannot be enforced in the event of a dispute.
All symbols, in particular words, images or presentations which lend themselves to distinguishing a company’s goods or services from those of other companies can be protected as a brand.
A registered design can be used to protect a new product design. As with a utility model, the German Patent and Trademark Office does not check whether the registered design actually fulfils material protection requirements (in particular, novelty and uniqueness).
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