Consumers encounter trademarks everywhere—printed on products or even marketed as services. And they often know which trademarks relate to which companies. It doesn’t matter whether trademarks have certain fonts or logos, they help consumers identify companies or brands. Trademarks have recognition value which should be protected as assets.
What is a trademark?
Like patents, trademarks also protect intellectual property, i.e. goods and services of companies. Trademarks primarily protect signs, which companies use to differentiate their products and services from those of other companies. Once a trademark is registered, it is protected for ten years from the date the application was received by the Trademark Office and may be extended by ten years at a time, without restriction, by paying an additional fee. The fee must be paid no later than the last day of the trademark’s term of protection. Failing this, the trademark is deleted from the register.
Types of trademarks
Trademarks can be very versatile as they are differentiated using different criteria, such as using words, individual letters, numbers, images, colors and even sounds.
Word marks consist of complete words, such as product names like Volkswagen, Coca-Cola and L’Oreal. Personal names can also be word marks, e.g., J. K. Rowling. Abbreviations such as NKD and kik are also classified as word marks.
Figurative marks protect logos (among other things) formed from an image, such as Apple’s apple and the Nike Swoosh.
Word and figurative marks may also be combined, such as the BMW logo, where the lettering is contained in the graphic.
- Three-dimensional marks
- Color marks
- Sound marks
- Positional marks
- Tracer marks
- Pattern marks
- Motion marks
- Multimedia marks
- Hologram marks
- Other forms
A mark can be considered a company asset when it is sufficiently well known that consumers recognize it immediately and associate it with a specific company, product or service. This is because recognizable marks influence consumer purchasing decisions.
Trademarks should therefore be protected against misuse, which is precisely the purpose of trademark protection as enshrined in the German Trademark Act.
Our patent attorneys at RGTH help clients register their trademarks by defining the elements of the mark, which helps us determine what type of mark it is and therefore how best to protect it. We also discuss how the mark should be used in the future, which products and services it should apply to and whether there are any grounds for refusal. These questions are important for the trademark application and its chances of success.
In Germany applications are filed with the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA), which registers trademarks in the German Trade Mark Register after careful examination. In addition to applying for a trademark in Germany, you can also protect trademarks abroad by applying to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) for an EU trademark, which is valid across the entire European Union, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for an international trademark.
At RGTH, our expert patent attorneys also assist our clients in applying for trademarks outside of Germany.
The following fees are incurred when applying and registering a trademark:
- Application fee
- Class fees for goods and services
- Accelerated examination fee
The application fee includes three classes of goods or services free of charge. Different fees may apply outside of Germany.
The DPMA only examines your application. It does not carry out any research into trademarks that are already registered. It is therefore possible to infringe earlier trademark rights held by third parties despite a successful application. In the worst-case scenario, this can lead to infringement claims or opposition proceedings shortly after registering the mark, or cancellation proceedings being brought against your registered trademark at a later date.
Regular and extensive trademark searches in Germany and abroad are therefore advisable before applying for a trademark.
Our patent attorneys consider any existing marks that could lead to considerable conflicts and legal difficulties. This includes both identical and similar marks, especially if consumers could confuse the marks due to their similarities.
We represent our clients’ rights in any cases of registered trademark infringement. You can enforce your rights either by coming to an agreement with the person infringing your trademark or by filing a cease-and-desist & damages claim with the competent court. RGTH clients can rely on our experienced patent attorneys in cases of trademark infringement.
Title protection allows our clients to protect their works, such as books, video games, films and music. RGTH’s services also include extensive title research, placing title protection rights and defending them.
Our trademark protection services
- German, EU and international trademark registration plus national trademark registration in countries outside of the European Union (DE trademarks, EU trademarks, IR trademarks, international trade marks and other national trademark registrations)
- National and international trademark searches
- Representation in opposition proceedings and cancellation/appeal proceedings before the DPMA or the Federal Patent Court (BPatG) in Munich and EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office) in Alicante, Spain
- Trademark licensing
- Advice in any conflicts and trademark-related contracts (such as franchises, licensing agreements for trademarks)
- Brand development
- Trademark strategies
At RGTH, our patent attorneys have a global network, which our clients can benefit from when applying for trademarks and placing title protection rights. They also have extensive experience and typically boast practical, professional expertise from industry. We can provide our clients with interdisciplinary advice about products, services and inventions thanks to in-depth knowledge and experience in trademark law, patent law and design rights.