What are the rights of a patent holder

Patent protection


Protection for your technical inventions

From everyday objects to sophisticated high-tech products: Economically successful ideas are often copied or imitated. With patents you can protect your technical inventions (innovative products or processes) from unwanted imitation.

Patents reward their owner with a temporary and spatially limited monopoly of use. At the same time, they fulfill an important information function: the publication of the invention provides incentives for further research and development. Inventors and consumers alike benefit from this promotion of innovation and the increase in knowledge.

Patents make business decisions easier


A Information brochure (1.02 MB) [not barrier-free; accessible version in brief] for patent protection

Patents also play an important role in business decisions. They show strategies and development tendencies and set incentives for the further development of the state of the art.
Patents can also be of interest when evaluating a company.
A company's patent portfolio represents an important property asset and provides information about the innovative strength of a company. Patent protection strengthens companies in global competition and is an important location factor.

Importance for technology transfer

In addition, the protective rights can increase the motivation of the employees of a company: If a company applies for a patent for the invention of an employee, he is entitled to inventor remuneration.
Patents also play an important role in technology transfer: They can help to find partners for further developments and entrepreneurial collaborations, or they can also be useful for raising funds. Patents help to secure high development costs. Successful marketing strategies enable reinvestments, which in turn are the engine for research and development.

Invention is protected for 20 years

A patent does not come into existence automatically when you register with the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA). First, the invention must comply with the law Examination procedure pass successfully. This examines whether the subject-matter of the application is new to a person skilled in the art, is based on an inventive step and whether the invention is disclosed in a feasible manner and is commercially applicable. With the publication of the patent grant in the patent gazette, the patent proprietor's right of protection and prohibition arises. A granted patent is valid for a maximum of twenty years, starting on the day after filing. However, there are exceptions for pharmaceuticals and pesticides.

Cross-border protection possible

The most important links for patent registration

Like all other industrial property rights, patents are subject to the principle of territoriality and are only valid in the country or area for which they were granted. You can therefore only assert rights from a patent granted by the DPMA within Germany.

Of course, there are possibilities to extend a patent application with the DPMA to other countries as well. You can find out more about this under Patent protection abroad.

License inventions

As a patent holder, you can exploit your invention yourself and secure an exclusive position on the market. They are able to make entry into a certain market segment more difficult for competitors or even to obstruct it. You can also sell or bequeath your property right, or you can buy one for it License forgive. With a license, the patent holder transfers the exploitation to another, in return he receives license fees.

You can research inventions online in the DPMAregister for which a declaration of willingness to license pursuant to Section 23 PatG or a non-binding declaration of interest has been submitted. These search options support applicants and owners of property rights in the search for a licensee and companies and business consultants in the search for licensors. You can find more information on this, also with regard to the reduction in annual fees in the case of a license declaration of readiness in accordance with Section 23 PatG, in Leaflet for patent applicants.

Utility model - the quick alternative to a patent

The non-binding license declaration of interest can also be submitted for utility models, the quick and inexpensive alternative to a patent. The utility model offers similar protection to a patent, but the registration process is considerably shorter, since the invention is not technically examined (and is therefore easier to challenge).

Overview of the state of the art

A patent search reveals the state of the art in the context of the invention presented in the patent application. Searches in patent databases and literature can help you avoid expensive and unnecessary duplicate developments. You can also prevent the risk of violating third-party property rights. Research enables you to better assess the risk of impending nullity suits against your property right.

The German Patent and Trademark Office offers you the best online and on-site research options to capture the current state of the art.

additional Information

We have put together initial information on patent protection on these pages. If you have any questions or want to find out more, it is worth taking a look at our information sheets or, in case of doubt, at the Patent Act and the Patent Ordinance. You can find further information in our patent brochure.

Image: iStock.com/golubovy

Status: 02/23/2021