The strong technical property right
A patent is a strong property right for technical inventions. It secures its holder a prohibitive right against third parties, limited to a maximum of 20 years, and in this way creates competitive advantages. In addition, a patent holder who can normally use his invention himself, can also license it. To balance these privileges, the invention is published.
German patent applications are examined for protectability by the German Patent and Trademark Office, whereas European patent applications are examined by the European Patent Office (EPO). Only if such examination reveals that the invention applied for is new, inventive and susceptible of industrial application, will the patent application be converted into a patent.
Depending on the granting authority, the patent has territorial validity, correspondingly. A German patent will thus protect the invention here in Germany. But be aware: Prohibited practices include not just its manufacturing but also extend to offering the invention on the home market (Internet!) and, of course, its import. This is why even a property right that is registered only nationally often has a major impact already!
A European patent is (still) a bundle of several national patents. International patent applications are possible, too. After a patent has been granted, it can only be brought down by a prompt opposition filed with the granting authority or subsequently by an action of nullity before the competent courts (Germany: Federal Patent Court).
Patents no longer protect just the core competencies of a company. Within the scope of a comprehensive corporate strategy, they offer a valuable strategic instrument to expand an existing market position. Research and development projects can also be prepared and carried out in a targeted and cost-saving manner within the scope of a patent strategy.
For small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), there is the possibility of state subsidies for patent applications to strengthen the competitive location of Germany (SIGNO).