A patent protects the inventor of a product against copycats and counterfeiters and enables him to market his development in the best way. The patent principally is a kind of insurance policy for him granting him a monopoly for a certain period of time by the patent protection. The legal patent duration is 20 years. In specific cases, the patent protection can be extended by a maximum of five years by a “supplementary protection certificate”.
The patent and its benefits
Holding a patent offers valuable benefits. Inventions or developments not protected by a patent virtually could be copied by anyone and be marketed on anyone’s initiative and to anyone’s advantage. All his efforts, money, work and time, he had invested in his invention were futile, while the copycats and counterfeiters would profit from his work without any efforts. A patent has the purpose to hinder competitors from making economic use of his invention. The patentee has the chance to acquire essential market shares for himself.
A further important advantage: The patent registration signals a high innovation power to the public and demonstrates an enormous expertise towards customers, investors and competitors. A patent makes a great difference in the evaluation of a company.
What is a patent?
In Germany, the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) decides whether a patent is granted. The patent does not come in existence with the time of application at the DPMA but only after the positive completion of the legally stipulated procedure. The procedure includes several criteria. The invention must be really innovative and it should offer the possibility of commercial use. Subsequent to the positive outcome of the procedure, the patent is granted.
Where should the inventor apply for a patent?
In most cases, the patent application should be submitted to the DPMA. Usually, the inventor receives a first official communication after 9 or 10 months that allows evaluating the chances of patent granting. In case, the first official communication of the DPMA is positive, it could be worth considering investing in an international subsequent application (PCT application). It is indispensable if the inventor wants to keep the opportunity of the issue of a patent beyond Germany. The international subsequent application must be submitted within one year after the day of application for the German patent.
The costs of patent application
The official fee of the DPMA is 410.00 € (incl. official investigation and examination) for up to 10 patent claims (each further claim costs additional 30.00 €).
The patent application should be drawn up by a patent agent. The fee generally is 3,000.00 to 5,000.00 €, depending on the complexity of the invention and the degree of difficulty of the application.
Why even the patent application alone has a positive effect
To get protection a patent has to be published. That is why already the patent application in connection with the relevant product is published by the patent office. Already the declaration “patent pending” enormously increases the awareness of the product and the reputation of the company. Simultaneously, the publication of the patent application decreases the probability that other companies will work on the same inventions.
Patent applications help innovative companies to achieve considerable competition advantages. The alternative strategy to do without patent applications and keep development secret is not recommendable from a commercial point of view. The risk that an invention is disclosed is permanently existent due to the steadily increasing fluctuation of employees. Moreover, the companies would run the risk of leaving competitors working on the same invention and applying for a patent.
Further protection possibilities
In addition to the patent, there are further possibilities to protect inventions and developments.
The utility model is regarded as a “quick patent”. Only some weeks after application, it can be recorded in the corresponding register. Principally, it grants the same rights. The holder of the utility model, exclusively, is authorized to produce, to use and to distribute the invention. The protection of utility patents, however, lasts only for ten years. Moreover, there is no comprehensive examination procedure. The disadvantage is that the utility model registration could be contested or even cancelled with a later examination.
The official fee of the DPMA for a utility model registration is 40.00 €. The patent agent expenses for drawing up the application are comparable to the expenses to a patent application because time and energy are similar.
Design (formerly: design patent)
A design is the outer appearance of a product. It is exclusively about shape, colour, surface texture and pattern. A design patent protects the intellectual property with regard to the design. It has a maximum protection duration of 25 years. The holder of a registered design has the right of the exclusive use of the design. He is authorized to forbid any third party to use the design in production, marketing or import or export. Moreover, he can take action against any design that gives an impression to the user not different from that of the registered appearance.
Trademarks – whether in the form of images / logos or copies – distinguish the product of a company in the public. They represent the quality of a company and – as well as the patent – are part of the intellectual property of the inventor or the corporation.
In principle, all trademarks helping distinguish the products of a company from the products of another company can be protected. With the registration of a trademark, the owner gets the exclusive right to use the trademark for his products. The owner also has the right to sell his trademark. The payment of the extension fee at the end of each ten-year period will extend the trademark protection without restriction.
Product development and patent with Cosmacon
We are ready to develop your innovative product for you for which you want to implement the opportunities for protection. Protection will secure your exclusive right to use the product. It is the way to differentiate yourself from competitors and to give your customers a positive promotional message.
In all questions of patent applications we work together with patent agent Dr. Reinert.
Cooperating with Dr. Reinert, we already implemented protection for cosmetics of several customers and achieved their exclusive marketing.
Patentanwalt Dr. Peter Reinert
Eupener Straße 137