Germany Intellectual Property Law

Intellectual Property in Germany

Property rights, intellectual property and protection from infringement exists in Germany similar to other countries when someone creates a trademark, copyright or invention that needs a patent. These rights are different based on the IP involved, but the owner has the right to pursue a claim against infringement and protect the IP from others.

Intellectual Property and Property Rights in Germany

There are patents for the protections of technical inventions in Germany, a utility model or a patent for the registered right of an innovation, an industrial design that protects the design, model or pattern of an invention and trademarks. Copyrights generally work the same in Germany as they do in many other countries. However, trademarks can cover word or even figurative creations. The right to property in Germany may depend on when the person registers the IP and if there are any others attempting to do so at the same time.

Protection Sought in Germany for IP

When the person seeks to acquire property protection for IP in Germany, it may depend on where and when the person accomplishes this task. If the markets in Germany provide for it, the individual can seek to register with the Protection at European level or through the WIPO or World Intellectual Property Organization which may handle the copyright IP work. The inventor, company owner or work creator may need to seek registration first before any protections are in place for the new item. Then, it is a matter of legal concerns if there are any cases of infringement.

Handling the IP Rights in Germany

The intellectual property rights often depend on who creates the item or registers it. Sometimes, a company will create inventions to sell through commercial enterprises with a team that builds or works together to progress through various innovations. When the team is who creates a new invention, the property rights usually remain with the company rather than a single or team of inventors. This is normally something those developing the IP will understand from the beginning. It is important to fully comprehend who can retain property rights and who can handle them based on the situation and the development of the item.

Registration with IP in Germany

As with many other countries, Germany has registration for trademarks through brand logo or image, words or phrases. The creator of the trademark will need to register it in Germany to retain property rights to anything connected to the IP. This can extend to products, services or a brand recognition with the trademark. Registering in the country will safeguard the brand's property rights and help to ensure the public is aware of the logo. In contrast to patents, there are no complications in registration and development of a trademark because the owner of the company usually registers it and there is no creation of an item outside of products or services.

The German Copyright Act

The Urheberrechtsgesetz or German Copyright Act can affect the IP of computer programs and software. Where a program exists because of the creation by someone, it may affect either the individual creator or an employee of a company and who owns the property. If the employee works through the employer and invents the software through the specification of the company and owner, the business usually holds the copyright. This transfers the rights to the business because the employees are working for the company and by the tasks set forth by the employer. This process transfers creative services and rights to the owner of the business.

Invention and Patent Creation in Germany

As with the copyright and the Act involved in employee development of a created work, those that build an invention at the behest of a company will also transfer property rights to the business after the invention is stable. The development process may begin and end with a team of inventors, but they are creating a new invention because of what the Germany company wants and through the project started by the employer. This will lead to a patent that the business holds and the product sells through the company. This could lead to bonuses or even commission for sales, but the development team does not usually hold the property rights to the invention.

Institutions with IP in Germany

Many that want to register IP for a patent or get a license will seek higher education, advice or assistance through an institution in Germany. This can assist the inventor or business owner in handling the important details with the intellectual property. The individual can acquire information about the procedure, German regulations and even research topics devoted to intellectual property, rights and registration in the country. This person that goes to an institution can even acquire support in each step of registration and IP protections when wanting to use it to sell or to protect the item.

German Law on Employee Inventions

The Arbeitnehmererfindungsgesetz or German Law on Employee Inventions governs over employers and inventions made during employment. When employees create something new for the company, this law is what will govern over the situation through private law. The employer has a right to claim the invention per this law, and the employee that helps to develop it may receive compensation for the transfer of IP rights to the employer. This law applies to service inventions or Diensterfindungen which are developed during employment either as a role within the company or through experience and work in the business.

The employer will have contributions to the invention that will become part of this process. All inventions created through free invention processes or freie Erfindungen also affect this process. The employee can offer the employer a non-exclusive right to use and access to the invention through standard reasonable terms. However, the employer may choose not to work through these circumstances. If the company does, the reasonable terms must fall within the scope of standard and usual business operations with the invention. These matters still apply to the German Law on Employee inventions.

Different Invention Agreements in Germany

Even though Germany has laws in place that can transfer property rights of inventions to the company, the employer can make other arrangements with the developer or development team. Deviating from the standard rules regarding these situations, the company can claim only a share of the earnings of the patented item rather than hold the property rights. The employee can sell the invention as with other items that receive a patent and share the monies earned with the business. The Law on Employee Inventions still remains in place, but special deviations from the standard must exist before working out this deal.

Inventions at Universities in Germany

Employees of a university will have special privileges or conditions as per the Law on Employee Inventions under ยง 42. The employee can publish inventions as long as it is in the scope of teaching or working through research at the university. The employer must receive notice of this in a timely manner. If there is no publication that will occur, the person that creates the invention can still retain a non-exclusive right to use the item within his or her scope of standard teaching at the university or when working through research projects.

Working Out the German Compensation for the Invention

When the employer is able to work out a deal with the employee and utilizes the patented invention, he or she will usually fix the earnings generated. This situation may provide the employee with up to 30 percent of the monies garnered through invention sales. This is a way to compensate the inventor that works for a company or a university. When the individual does not have the ability to sell the patented item, he or she may become willing to let the company take the harder task of advertising and promoting the item for sale across the country and around the world.

Connections to a Business in Germany

Many trademarks and patents connect to a business setting. The trademark is usually something a business owner will register in Germany to acquire the rights to sell products or services through the brand. However, the employer that uses employees may only retain the rights to sell an invention through a deal made with the inventor. It is important for both parties to come to an agreement to avoid possible legal entanglements or infringement of the items. The business owner must register the trademark before someone else does. The connection to the company is important and can place greater stress on the need to use clients and customers for sales and to help market the items.

European Intellectual Property Law and Germany

As one of the European countries, Germany has a connection with IP laws and the rest of the EU. There are common principals that can help the individual, cause problems or lead to complications. As with other countries regarding IP, there are times when the owner will need to hire a lawyer because of infringement. The common link between the EU countries and Germany is that these laws are usually similar in scope. There are limitations to fair use with a copyright, limits on patented invention sales and the need to register a trademark early for use.

The German Trademark Act

Through new changes in the German Trademark Act and other amendments to this Act, it is no longer necessary to have a graphic representation for the trademark. It is not a prerequisite as it was in the past. This was necessary for the older German Trademark Law. There are provisions through the European Union Trade Mark Regulation that apply to these situations in that all trademarks can have protections in place with a visible understanding of this IP protection. The changes with the new law are to encompass sound, multimedia and the electronic forms of trademark items in IP.

Electronic and Digital Data in Germany

Trademarks and copyrights are possible for digital information, electronic data and even code in programs. Through the different amendments to previous acts and laws in Germany, the individual that develops a program creates a type of sound or something that is only electronic can acquire IP protections for the creation. This is similar to the rest of the EU and is in line with protections in place for parts of software, entire programs and digital items that only exist through computers. The inventor can register or acquire a copyright for these items through the standard channels in Germany.

Registering an IP in Germany

When an individual or business owner has an IP or wants to create one, he or she will need to register. This process is different based on the type of registration and the IP. For copyrights, the person will need to either go online to the copyright house or go in person to the trademark and copyright office. Additionally, because Germany is part of the Berne Convention, the country plays to the rules across the European Union and has an international agreement that governs over copyrights. This can reduce complications with copyright infringement cases.

Registration is similar for a trademark because the offices are the same. However, for a trademark, the person will use a word, phrase, logo or brand image. The trademark usually is the first step in selling products or creating a business that will use services to the public. Many trademark owners remain domestic and in place, but some can branch out and seek foreign business interactions. This may require the need to register the trademark in another country if the owner wants to sell in that country under the same company. This is different from a copyright which usually exists across the world when there is a tangible creation already in existence.

Patent Registration in Germany

When someone invents a new creation, he or she will need to register the invention through a patent. This is a process that can lead to an approval or denial of the patent. However, the lifetime of the patent will provide the inventor with years of exclusive sales. The person or company can accomplish this through a long process that requires a panel and authorities that will oversee the invention. The inventions are usually held in a database which can help the developer understand if he or she is using something similar to a passed invention or that is unique.

The Other IP in Germany

Trade secrets are the nonstandard IP that may not have many protections. The owner of a company or someone that works of the business usually is the secret keeper of a trade secret. However, these IPs are not given protection if the information is no longer secret. The information held can support the creation of something or remain data. Other trade secrets can help with operations in a company or the running of a business. These IPs are different because they must remain secret and can face theft or disclosure which removes the protections behind them. The secret is usually supported through nondisclosure agreements and only given to select few in a company.

The Lawyer in German IP

When there are cases of infringement or possible complications with intellectual property, the owner of a company or the individual will need an IP lawyer. This legal professional can pursue infringement cases, help register the IP or provide the paperwork and ensure that the owner does not violate German laws or infringe on other country IP and owners through various processes and legal footwork in the EU or the world.

Intellectual Property Lawyers in Germany

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