Patents and Utility Models

European patents shall be granted for any inventions, in all fields of technology, provided that they are new, involve an inventive step and are susceptible of industrial application.
Art.52 European Patent Convention

Technical inventions such as technical apparatuses and technical methods may become subject of a patent application or a utility model application. A patent is granted for an invention that is new and that is not obvious. In addition the invention must be susceptible of industrial application.

The right to a patent belongs to the inventor. The inventor however can transfer his right to another natural or legal person. This is automatically so, if the inventor is an employee, then the right to a patent belongs to his employer. The inventor is to be designated in the patent application. However, the inventor may waive his right to be mentioned when the patent application is published.

The patent application must contain a description of the invention and claims defining the matter for which protection is sought. The application may contain drawings in order to represent preferred examples of the invention and technical background to the invention where appropriate.

The patent application is published after 18 months from the date of the first filing, irrespective of the fate of the patent application after the date of filing, unless the application is withdrawn before publication.

The patent office draws up a search report identifying relevant prior art and examines whether the patent application is novel and non-obvious over the prior art. Depending on the appraisal of novelty and inventive step, a patent is granted or the patent application is refused. After grant the patent may still be refused in an opposition procedure before the patent office. The opposition procedure must be launched within a predetermined period of time after publication of the intention to grant by the Patent Office. A patent may be revoked in a nullity procedure before a national court at any time.

The maximum life time of a patent is 20 years after date of filing. For the patent application and the patent renewal fees must be paid for every year. The amount of the renewal fee depends on the year counted from the filing date.

A German patent is valid in the Federal Republic of Germany.

A European patent is valid in those member states of the European Patent Convention for which it has been granted.

For a utility model similar requirements as for a patent apply. Some differences between patents and utility models will be explained in the following.

A utility model application will not be substantially examined, a utility model is granted if the application fulfills all formal requirements. A utility model is restricted to apparatuses, materials, and pharmaceutic products but it is not applicable to methods. A 6 months period preclusive of prejudice to novelty is granted.

The utility model is published normally within 2 to 3 months after the filing date.

The maximum life time is 10 years after filing, for which renewal fees must be paid after regular times.

A German utility model is valid in the Federal Republic of Germany.


in cooperation without any liability under corporate law
• Berg & Partner lawyers notaries
• Dipl.-Chem. Dr. Herrguth Patent attorney