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How do you get a trademark registration in Germany?
When you decide to enter the German market with your product or service a trademark registration must be realized in Germany. A trademark registration in Germany can be achieved in two different ways. The first way is to register a trademark within the European Union, so that it is also automatically valid in Germany. The second way is a local registration with the German patent and trademark office DPMA. Entrepreneurs who do not consider it necessary to be registered in all Member States of the European Union choose this option. When urgent is required, an accelerated process can be requested from the DPMA. This only takes two months.
Trademark registration in Germany: word mark, logo, or a combination of both?
Trademark registration in Germany can be done at word level, image level or a combined level. If you opt for a combined trademark, i.e. a trademark that contains both word elements and figurative elements, your exclusive right is limited to the use of this exact composition. If you want to be able to use the word element or the logo separately, it is wise to protect this word mark or logo separately as well.
This does not alter the fact that you may always object when another party uses your trademark or part thereof for goods or services that belong to a primary or separate part of your trademark. In other words, you can oppose this. The degree of success in such a case varies and depends on the exact circumstances.
Apply at European level
Before we go into more detail about applying for a trademark registration in Germany separately, we will come back to filing your trademark at European level. If you apply for a trademark registration there and it is approved, then your trademark is protected in all 27 countries of the European Union. Note: this does not apply to all of Europe. Do you have no ambitions to operate on this scale, but do you choose to only apply for trademark protection for the German market? Then you turn to the DPMA, the Deutsche Patent- und Markenamt.
Apply locally via the DPMA
If you want to achieve trademark protection in Germany, you can apply for this at the DPMA. This office will examine your application and check whether your trademark meets the applicable requirements for registration. Please note: verifying the existence of identical or confusingly equivalent trademarks is not the function of the Deutsche Patent- und Markenamt. For this you need to have done research yourself, with or without the help of a trademark office.
Even when your trademark registration is a fact in Germany, you must actively check whether registrations of other trademarks that are similar or identical to yours have taken place. In other words: you have to keep an eye on and defend your official trademark registration in Germany. For the latter you can again hire a trademark office. Goods and services are classified in one or more of the internationally used classes.
What reasons are there for DPMA's rejection of trademark registration?
Are you applying for trademark registration in Germany through a professional trademark agency? Thanks to their thorough analysis, there is a good chance that the request will be approved. However, the DPMA applies a number of strict, absolute grounds for refusal. These are for example:
- A lack of distinctive character
- Descriptive terms that should remain freely available for general use
- Danger of misleading the public
- A state emblem that is included in the trademark
- A breach of public order or accepted principles of morality
The fast review procedure
It is possible to request an accelerated assessment procedure from the DPDA. Obviously, this involves additional costs. An accelerated assessment can be submitted, for example, if you intend to have your application registered internationally. If your application for trademark registration is indeed given priority, it can – depending on the situation – be registered after a few working days. The procedure takes a maximum of six months.
Search the registry of the DPMA
You can search for German trademarks in the DPMA register. In addition to registered German trademarks, denied applications and pending applications are also displayed. In the DPMA register you will find trademarks that show similarities with your intended trademark, but no search for similarity can be performed.
The validity of a trademark registration in Germany
When your trademark registration in Germany is a fact, then this valid for a period of ten years from the date of application. Renewal is possible after 10 years and always offers protection for another ten years. An application for renewal of the registration can be submitted from one year before the end date and up to the last day of the month in which the expiry date falls. It is still possible to renew your trademark registration in Germany up to a period of six months after the expiry date. Additional costs will be charged for this.