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Trademarks in Germany
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Are there any benefits from a pre-filing use of the trademark?

No. There are no benefits from pre-filing use.

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What are the types of trademark that can be registered in Germany?

Marks that can be represented clearly and can make a product or service distinguishable from others are allowed for registration: 

  • Names
  • Slogans
  • Words
  • Sounds
  • Taste
  • Touch
  • Smell
  • Trade dress
  • Devices
  • Holograms
  • Colors
  • Shapes with 3 dimensions
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What type of trademark is non-registrable?

Some marks are prohibited by this jurisdiction to be registered: 

  • Marks that are incompatible with Germany’s moral standards or marks that oppose public order
  • Terms that have a broad meaning (generic words)
  • Marks that use symbols, names or flags of regions, states, nations and international organization without permission from proper authorities
  • Marks that do not display distinctive characteristics
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Does Germany use the "Nice Classification" system?

The Nice Classification system is used in Germany only as a general guide.

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Does the Community Trademark apply for Germany?

Yes. Germany is a member of the European Union and EUTM (European Union Trade Mark) registration system is effective in this jurisdiction.

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Is it legal to use my trademark even if it is not yet registered?

Yes. You may legally use an unregistered trademark for selling goods or services.

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What is the web address of the trademark national office?

Germany’s national trademark office is accessible online at this web address: https://www.dpma.de/english/index.html

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What are the grounds for a Trademark Application to be opposed?

Acceptable grounds for opposition include: 

  • A similar or identical mark was registered earlier by another person or company
  • A well-known mark was copied or if it looks almost the same as a notorious mark
  • The mark was registered in the agent’s name or a representative of the owner of the mark
  • Rights against trade names are violated
  • Absolute grounds such as deceptiveness, descriptiveness, non-distinctiveness, etc.
  • Violation of prior rights such as rights to a copyrighted material, personal name, patented design, etc.
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Is Germany a member of the Madrid System?

Yes. Germany is a signatory of the international treaties, Madrid Agreement and Madrid Protocol.

Basic Concepts
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How do I perform a trademark search?

First, we recommend your start by defining the class you want to register for. You can find your class, using our Trademark Class Search tool. Using this tool you enter your product/service, and it will tell you the class or classes you should register for.

After you have found your class(es), you can use our Trademark Search engine, or go directly to your country's Trademark Office and perform the search there.

When searching, try different combinations of your name. For example, if you are searching for AMAZON, look for AMASON, HAMAZON, or similar word patterns. Try several different combinations of words and spellings.

Trademark Search may be challenging and time-consuming and, if you do not have the time or experience, our company offers the service Trademark Study. The Study will give you details about the classes where you might want to register your trademark, it will also include a list of identical and similar trademarks, and finally, it will provide you an Attorney's recommendation about registration possibilities and use of your trademark.

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What is a trademark class search?

To help in the administration of trademarks, most countries in the world have adopted the Nice Classification (International Classification of Nice) which groups all products and services into 45 classes: 34 for products and 11 for services.

For example, assume you want to register 'RackTacket Remote Rockets' in the trademark classes for toys, rockets, and rocket launchers. The names that sound like 'RackTacket Remote Rockets' may still be available in a different trademark category for, say, pharmaceuticals or leather goods. You have claimed toys and rockets rather than the pharmaceutical or leather goods categories.

You can use our Trademark Class Search engine to search your class or you can order a Trademark Study so an attorney can review your products and services and advise you on the classes to apply. 

 

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Do I need an attorney to perform a trademark search?

No, you don’t, but if you have little or no experience dealing with trademarks, we suggest you seek professional help. Our company offers the service Trademark Study. The Study gives you details of the classes in which you might want to register your trademark; it also lists identical and similar trademarks, and finally, you get an Attorney's recommendation about registration possibilities and use of your trademark.

You can use our Trademark Search tool too.

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What is a Trademark Study?

It is an in-depth trademark search report, it will not only list identical and similar trademarks (graphic & phonetic) that may conflict with yours but also give you an Attorney's opinion about registration probabilities and the class(es) that belong to your product(s)/service(s). The Study includes the following sections:

a) Optimal Class Protection 
Includes identifying under which classes it would be advisable that your trademark be registered. Classes are determined using the description of your products and/or services.

b) Similarity Search
Our attorneys will perform an in-depth search of existing registered trademarks under the relevant class, identifying those of graphic or phonetic similarity.

c) Review and Recommendation
Based on the search results, our attorneys will give a recommendation about registration probabilities. 
 
Order your Trademark Study and start today your trademark registration process!
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Why sometimes trademark applications are refused? 

Usually, trademarks are refused by the trademark office when they found that your trademark is:

  • Similar to existing marks using sound, meaning, or appearance, and also for the same products/services. 
  • An unoriginal description of a service, product, or geographic location is easily confused by the public with other brands
  • Deceptive, confusing, or misleading. Avoid vulgar phrases no matter how popular they are.
  • A person or family surname.
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What is the difference between a strong and weak mark?

The characteristics of a registrable trademark can be subtle. A professional trademark search will find areas where your proposed mark overlaps pre-existing trademarks. This task is critical since infringement of someone's existing property rights leads directly to the rejection of or opposition to your trademark application.

Once you verify a mark’s uniqueness through a search, consider the strength or weakness of your trademark design in preventing future infringement. The design characteristics will decide any difficulties other parties would have copying your mark for counterfeiting purposes or creating a similar yet legally permissible version as a business competitor. For example, suggestive, fanciful, or arbitrary marks that do not directly describe your goods or services in commonly-used terms are strong marks. Descriptive or generic marks that use popular phrases for goods or services may be registrable but are harder to defend as unique. Trademarks that are easy to reproduce or counterfeit are weak marks.    

Part of the application process for a trademark is reviewing the strength or weakness of your design compared to existing marks already registered. An authorizing body also considers the hazards of potential future disputes over infringement issues and property rights. 

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What happens if my trademark is already filed or registered?

If you discover that another company has a pending application or has a registered trademark, and the other party shares common business products/services with you, they have priority over the mark, so you probably need to find another trademark to register.

In countries where 'common law' applies (Like the U.S.), their use of the mark before your trademark filing also gives them a claim to property rights depending on the scope of their use of the mark.

If the other mark owner used their trademark for a limited time in a limited area, you might be able to resubmit a registration application with Trademark Office.  Keep in mind your application has now a very high probability of rejection. 

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Why should I invest in a trademark?

By registering a mark, you can become its exclusive owner. Registration uniquely distinguishes your mark from competing marks in the same sector so that your clients can differentiate your products or services. This allows consumers that are satisfied with the given product and/or service to be able to buy or use that product and/or service. All the major companies and corporations register their trademarks as can we all see from the circle-R symbol that hovers beside their distinctive logos and names.

Registration also provides legal protection, preventing third parties from copying or imitating your mark, cashing in on your reputation, and damaging your prestige. And if they try, you can take them to court and sue them for the damages.

Investing in a trademark will provide protection through the local trademark office of the respective country and will also result in a greater connection with your clients and an increase in the value of your company as the registration will become a company asset.

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Why does a trademark matter to me and my business?

The similarity between trademarks confuses the marketplace and creates an opportunity for counterfeiters to steal your profits, use your brand awareness, and damage your reputation. Similar marks composed of words that sound, appear, or have the same meaning across different languages are worth consideration when choosing your personal or business mark.

A well-searched, correctly registered trademark helps confirm in the minds of consumers and through the eyes of the courts and governing bodies around the world that your mark identifies you as the source of the product or service.

The choice of a trademark for a business needs careful thought and planning. Subtle factors can add to the uniqueness of your mark. Consider the strength or weakness of your trademark design in differentiating you from the competition in your niche marketplace in thwarting potential counterfeiting. Is your mark memorable? Will your trademark attract attention especially online through its clarity, style, and uniqueness? Will the public remember it over time? If you move into foreign markets, will your choice of design translate well and not offend people in other countries with other cultures? 

The United States Patent Office reminds people that they can only register a person's claim to goods, services, and intellectual property. Property owners have ultimate responsibility for enforcing their rights. Proper registration of a trademark is a fundamental step in protecting your claims.

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