What is trademark protection

Trademark protection: national and international protection

What is a brand?

The question of what defines a brand and how a brand is created is examined in a wide variety of ways from the point of view of marketing. And the discipline of branding is a science in itself. The trademark law of the Federal Republic of Germany, on the other hand, is very pragmatic in this regard. It defines a trademark as all signs that can be used to "distinguish the goods or services of one company from those of other companies".

What is trademark protection possible for?

A trademark protection can according to the specifications of the trademark law, e.g. for

  • Words including personal names, images, letters, numbers, audio symbols, three-dimensional designs including the shape of the goods or their packaging as well as other presentations including colors and color combinations.

The brand term becomes a little clearer if you look at the categories that have to be selected when applying for a brand:

  • Word mark: this is where trademark protection applies to words, letters, numbers or other characters
  • Figurative mark: a figurative mark is understood to mean pictures, picture elements or images
  • Word / figurative marks: in addition to pure word or figurative marks, trademark protection can also be achieved for a combination of word and figurative components
  • three-dimensional brand: these are objective brands that are based on a three-dimensional design - for example, packaging
  • Sound mark: acoustic or audible marks are also possible - here tones, tone sequences, melodies or other sounds and noises fall under trademark protection
  • Identification thread mark: this trademark protection applies to colored stripes or threads that are used on products
  • Brand protection for other brands that cannot be assigned to the other categories

Would you like to apply for trademark protection? We recommend a lawyer for a smooth trademark registration.

Register your trademark now

Trademark protection through registration with the DPMA

Trademark protection does not only arise through registration with the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA). According to the Trademark Act, trademark protection is also possible through the use of the trademark in business dealings. However, for brand protection, the brand must also be recognized by the public or notoriously well known - i.e. a certain degree of awareness. In the event of a dispute, however, the courts will decide whether this is actually the case. In this respect, the entry of the trademark in the appropriate register is the safe way to achieve effective trademark protection.

We have put together in a separate chapter how the registration of the trademark at the DPMA works in detail. It is important to know that the DPMA does not check whether the registration of your trademark may violate existing property rights. If this is the case, you cannot claim trademark protection for your brand. If in doubt, your trademark will then be deleted.

In addition, there are fees of at least 300 euros for registering for trademark protection. The trademark protection then exists for an initial 10 years, but can then be extended for a further fee.

Trademark protection violated?

By registering a trademark, you receive trademark protection and thus the exclusive right to use the trademark. This means that third parties are not allowed to use your trademark for business purposes. If your trademark protection is nevertheless infringed, you have various options for taking action. So you can first request an injunction. If the trademark protection has been intentionally or negligently violated, claims for damages are possible. It is important that you coordinate with a lawyer on the subject of trademark protection in order to be able to enforce your claims as comprehensively as possible.

Brand protection through monitoring: many lawyers offer various tools for the efficient monitoring of existing brands, which can quickly reveal a violation of brand protection. We will recommend the right lawyer for you.

Register your trademark now

National and European trademark protection

Registration with the DPMA guarantees you trademark protection in Germany, but not in other European countries or even worldwide. The so-called community trademark was created for trademark protection at European level. This community trademark is intended to ensure trademark protection in all 28 EU member states. Only one entry is required for comprehensive EU-wide trademark protection. The registration of a trademark costs 900 euros (as of September 2014).

According to the DPMA, however, trademark protection with the community trademark is more problematic, as an obstacle to registration in one of the 28 countries can already suffice and the trademark will not be registered. This consequently also means a greater research effort in advance of the registration. In any case, it is questionable whether brand protection is necessary in one fell swoop throughout the EU - rather, a gradual and tailor-made expansion of brand protection may offer itself.

International trademark protection

International trademark protection is possible if you have already registered a trademark in Germany. You can then also initiate international protection for your trademark via the DPMA. The DPMA forwards your application to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which will examine it and send it to the countries you have selected as an application for protection. If there is no objection within one year, the trademark protection also applies to you in these countries.

Author: Für-Gründer.de editors

As editor-in-chief, René Klein has been responsible for the content of the portal and all publications by Für-Gründer.de for over 10 years. He is a regular interlocutor in other media and writes numerous external specialist articles on start-up topics. Before his time as editor-in-chief and co-founder of Für-Gründer.de, he advised listed companies in the field of financial market communication.