Patents are used to protect materials, procedures, devices and applications of technical ideas for a term of up to 20 years, providing that they are new, involve an ‘inventive step’ and are commercially applicable. At Herrmann Patentanwälte, we are your competent partner for national, European and international applications, as well as for the management, renewal and monitoring of your intellectual property rights.
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If you want to file a patent for an invention, important information relating to the invention it must not have been published or, exhibited, and the invention must not have been sold previously. In many industrial countries, a patent application is subject to an objective investigation, during which a search is carried out for prior art is published before the filing date. A patent application is published one-and-a-half years after the filing date or priority date. Annual fees must be paid to preserve the patent application and the patent. Within one year of the first filing date, patent applications in another state, a European patent application or an international patent application can be submitted with a ‘priority claim’ back to the filing date of the earlier applications for the invention. Before a patent is granted, third party objections against patentability of an invention described in a patent application may be filed by any interested party. After the patent has been granted, an opposition procedure is typically available within a period of objection. Revocation proceedings are also available post-grant in order to revoke problematic, third-party patent.
A utility patent is, like a patent, a technical property right. However, it has a shorter life span and is not formally examined. It also costs less than a standard patent, which is why it is particularly suitable for inventions wherein it is still unclear whether and to what degree they will be economically exploitable. We are happy to advise you whether this option is suitable for you and to point out the benefits and disadvantages in comparison with a standard patent.
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With a utility patent, only technical products, devices and materials can be protected; it is not possible to protect procedures. The utility patent is only examined by the German Patent and Trade Mark Office in relation to formal requirements. In comparison to a standard patent, no examination is carried out concerning inventive step. For this reason, a utility patent is considered the “little brother” of a standard patent, and the fastest route to protect technical innovations. However, the period of protection only lasts ten years. In addition, in the case of infringement proceedings for a utility patent, a series of particularities take effect, which must be considered tactically.
A design patent can be used to protect the external form and appearance of a product or part of a product. Graphical symbols and typographical characters can also be protected. A design patent is a relatively cost-effective property right with a protective life span of up to 25 years. Herrmann Patentanwälte will outline for you how you can obtain the most extensive protection at a comparably low cost – and will handle the entire procedure for you, from filing to infringement, should this occur.
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A visually memorable product or striking symbol can be important distinguishing features in the market today, making them part of a successful sales concept. Design patents protect such designs. In order for a design to be protected, by a design patent, the design must be new and distinctive. A design is distinctive if the overall impression, to an informed member of the public, is different from the corresponding overall impression of designs which have been published before the filing date. When evaluating distinctiveness, the degree of design freedom of the designer when developing the design is taken into consideration. A 25-year term of protection for the entire European Union can be obtained with just one registration (using the Community design system).
The name of a company, product or service is protected by a trademark. As well as word marks and picture marks, slogans, the form and layout of a product and even sounds can be protected. A register identifies that a trade mark is protected, who the owner is and who is permitted to use it. Herrmann Patentanwälte will support you in registering and creating a suitable list of goods and services. We will also carry out searches for registered trademarks to help avoid conflicts with other marks.
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Registered trademarks are protected in respect of specific goods and services. Beyond a trade mark, unregistered symbols, images and work titles can also be protected as part of trademark laws, which prevent improper exploitation and any damages. As a result, words, images and slogans can become the asset of the copyright holder if the visible or audible appearance is combined with the good reputation of the company and its products.
The law about employee inventions regulates how rights in an invention pass from an employee to an employer. We at Herrmann Patentanwälte will explain to you how the law operates in this area, and tell you the situations for which the compensation guidelines will play a role.
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First and foremost, the invention is owned by the inventor(s). However, if the employee is subject to an employment relationship in Germany, he/she must provide a separate invention disclosure in text format to the employer. The employer can make a claim to the invention or release it to the inventor. After a claim is made, a patent application must normally be submitted with effect for Germany. If the invention is released to the employee, the employee can file a patent application or utility patent application for the invention.
If you are the owner of intellectual knowledge, then you are at an economic advantage. Herrmann Patentanwälte will provide you with extensive consultation on the subject of licensing through to successful completion of contracts.
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If no out-of-court agreement about an allegation of patent infringement or the payment of a licence can be achieved, a patent infringement suit can be filed with a relevant district court. However, each specific case must be investigated as to whether an appropriate contract, for example a knowledge or licence agreement, is more practical. Patents have come to supersede the significance of shares in companies. For this reason, the dividends achieved with patents, which is known as licence revenue, can contribute not insignificantly to the economic success of a company.
Before significant time and money is spent on the development and marketing of a product or service, it should be investigated whether exploitation would violate existing trade mark rights. Based on detailed research and analysis, Herrmann Patentanwälte will give you clarity as to whether infringement risk exists. They will also check the legal position for all relevant markets and provide the relevant recommendations for action.
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As well as compensation, the holder of an opposing patent, utility patent or design patent can also demand that the sale of a product or provided service is ceased. A freedom-to-operate analysis avoids any conflicts about trademark rights with competitors after the product introduction. Such trademark right conflicts contain considerable cost risks and can unsettle customers and potential customers. A granted patent can only be eliminated by means of an opposition or revocation suit, which can take several years and be very expensive.
If your intellectual property is infringed, Herrmann Patentanwälte can act as an experienced partner to successfully enforce your claims – through all authorities if needed. In doing so, we will check all options which make sense as an alternative to the expensive litigation path, for example the allocation of licences.
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A violation always raises fundamental questions: is it advisable to contest the violation in court from a business point of view? What could the procedure look like? What obstacles are to be expected? Herrmann Patentanwälte will also provide you with help and advice if you are the defendant in an infringement case. With technical and legal expertise, and taking into account the economic consequences, we will discuss with you the correct strategy to keep the time and monetary costs manageable. If necessary, we can also enforce your rights internationally with our network of experienced partner law firms.
Is your business success at stake because you are confronted with an unjustified property rights lawsuit? Or do you think that a fellow competitor has been unfairly granted a property right? We are able to provide support for both the revocation and defence of an intellectual property right.
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Before any legal conflict, it is first necessary to analyse the situation precisely: what are the chances of success? Are any more relevant if property rights expected to be granted. In this and, of course, in the case of defending an intellectual property right, you will benefit from the interdisciplinary focus of our law firm, in which both technical and legal expertise are consolidated. Before the beginning of an objection process, a nullity suit or cancellation action against a property right, it is necessary to recognise any possible weak points of the patent in suit. By carrying out a patent search, further information about the state-of-the-art can be collected, which can be used to invalidate an intellectual property right.
Patents and other industrial property rights are becoming ever more important for companies as a strategic business asset. But what is the portfolio worth exactly? And how can I, as the business owner, use it to gain an advantage over other market participants? Herrmann Patentanwälte will examine your property rights, and analyse and evaluate your intellectual property, taking into account economic aspects.
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Intangible assets, known as intellectual property (IP), enjoy a high level of importance in our knowledge and information society. As part of an IP portfolio analysis tailored to your company, our specialists will show you how commercial property rights can consolidate a position on the market, by making access to new capital easier and incorporating it profitably into the company’s own result.
Commercial property rights also play an important role for business mergers and take-overs. Herrmann Patentanwälte offers an established team of patent attorneys who will provide a substantiated and serious evaluation of the state of your IP portfolio.
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In terms of the value of intangible assets, very specific questions arise during a transaction. As well as financial aspects of the company, the question may also concern economic and legal aspects: for example, will the existing property rights and possible licence contracts create a short-term or long-term competitive advantage? Or can the company act freely in the disputable business sector? And last but not least is the question of the strength of IP rights, i.e.: Can the registered patents be maintained and enforced if the occasion arises?
Herrmann Patentanwälte can also provide you with confidential help and advice when it comes to producing a variety of different expert reports. This concerns both the protective options of inventions, the legal validity of existing IP rights and issues of infringement of rights.
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With a substantiated expert report, you will find a stable basis for decision-making for your IP rights strategy and protection of your innovative edge in an early development stage. In relation to issues of violation, the expert report provides you with a solid basis for evaluating the risks and making the decision for a legal conflict or an amicable settlement.
When it comes to your hard-earned ideas, a neutral evaluation of the individual value by a patent professional is particularly important. Make a no-obligation inquiry to us: we understand your idea before your competitor does ... As patent attorneys with a natural science study background, we are in the best position to provide you with reliable support for your own security.
Thanks to our long-term, international expertise and our cross-industry IP knowledge, we can quickly provide our clients with a detailed overview, while taking into consideration the specific property rights situation and individual industry. In short: We understand your language – and that is your security.
Irrespective of which task you entrust us with and how large the scope, after your project briefing, we will work consistently and competently on your task in order to protect your intellectual property.
If your competitor does business with your product idea at your cost, then you need to put a stop to that. Competent and globally, we represent the legal enforcement of your interests when it comes to the “theft of ideas” or when existing patent rights are intentionally and illegally violated. You can rely on our professionalism, knowledge and globally outstanding network for the enforcement of all your IP rights.
Think about it: in the long term, a “forgotten” patent means one thing in particular – lost profits! All the more important for your company to take the right steps, to find the best possible protection for your idea and economic interests. Both at home and throughout the world.
Do you have any questions? Simply send us a message.
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