German trademark registration: trade mark registration in Germany
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Trademark registration in Germany: A Comprehensive Guide

By Robert Fichter, JET IP

 

With 3,869,000 million Euros in 2022, Germany has the highest gross domestic product within Europe, followed by the UK and France with 2,904,089 and 2,639,092 million Euros, respectively.

 

According to the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA), around 73,000 German national trademarks have been filed in 2022, and 53,621 trademarks have been registered. At the end of 2022, a total of 880,538 German trademarks existed. In 2022, most trademark applications covered class 35 connected to marketing, business management, and office tasks, followed by class 41 related to education, entertainment, and cultural activities, followed by computer and software products that are assigned to class 9.

 

In this article, we’ll look into the requirements, procedures, and pitfalls of trademark registration in Germany, giving you a comprehensive guide to safeguarding your brand in this important European market.

Contents

1. What can be registered as a trademark in Germany?
2. What reasons for refusal of a trademark application exist in Germany?
3. The process of trademark registration in Germany
4. Documents required for the registration of a trademark in Germany
5. Trademark opposition process in Germany
6. Trademark costs in Germany
7. Why file a trademark in Germany?
8. Final thoughts

1. What can be registered as a trademark in Germany?

 

As a mark generally serves as a sign of origin, all signs suitable to differentiate goods and/or services between two undertakings are in principle registerable. Examples of possible signs include traditionally words, letters, numbers, pictures, as well as non-traditionally colors, holograms, multimedia, sounds, positions, and 3D objects. Also, combinations of these sign types can be registered.

 

While trademark protection evolves from registration of a trademark application, protection can also develop because of a sign’s intensive use in business or because a sign is generally known to the relevant circles.

 

The claimed goods and services are classified according to the Nice classifications system. Signs comprising picture elements are categorized according to the Vienna classification system.

In the definition of the list of goods and services, it is highly recommended to apply the so-called eKDB (uniform classification database, jointly developed by the trademark offices of the European Union). Applying the eKDB ensures a fast and easy registration process. In rarely observed cases registration can occur within 10 days, usually it takes about 4 weeks, sometimes up to 3 months. However, if the list of goods and services comprises elements not mentioned in the eKDB, examination of the mark may easily take more than 6 months. The latter may cause issues in international business as the mark is only registered after the end of the priority period.

2. What reasons for refusal of a trademark application exist in Germany?

 

A trademark application can get refused due to absolute reasons, only. Relative reasons are not examined by the office but are subject to post-registration opposition procedures.

The most typical absolute ground for refusal is lack of distinctiveness. Further non-exhaustive examples of grounds exempting signs from registration are descriptiveness, violation of public morals or order, the sign comprising state emblems or flags, confusion as to the conveyed meaning of the sign, and religious offensiveness.

3. The process of trademark registration in Germany

 

As the office doesn’t examine for relative grounds, it is highly recommended to conduct a similarity search before filing. Be aware that both EU marks and international registrations (IRs) have an effect for Germany. In consequence a prior right search must comprise local German marks, EU marks, and IRs with effect for the EU or Germany.

 

The trademark registration process in Germany involves the following steps:

  1. Filing the application
  2. Formal examination
  3. Examination for absolute grounds
  4. Registration

 

The application documents shall comprise the designation of applicant, the sign itself, and the list of goods and services. Payment of official fees is not required to be entitled to receive an official application date and number. A three-month term commences at the day of filing to pay the due official fees. For sake of process performance, it is however recommended to pay the fees swiftly.

 

The German trademark system is a multi-class system. Up to three Nice classes are included in the basic application fees. Further classes are subject to additional fees.

 

After filing and fee payment, the trademark office will examine the application to ensure it meets all requirements for registration. If any issues are found, the office may request additional information or suggest changes to the trademark application, for example the list of goods and services. Note that the sign as such cannot be changed.

If the trademark meets the requirements, it will be registered, and the registration be published in the official gazette. This triggers a three-month period during which third parties may file an opposition based on relative grounds.

 

A registered trademark is valid for 10 years as of the filing date. It can be unlimitedly renewed in intervals of 10 years.

4. Documents required for the registration of a trademark in Germany

 

Trademarks can be conveniently filed online. No paper documents need to be filed. No Power of Attorney is required, but applicants not residing in Germany require the mark being filed by a patent attorney or attorney-at-law registered to practice in Germany and having a German address for service. Note that German patent attorneys are intensively trained on trademark matters.

 

You must also pay the required fees for trademark registration when filing.

 

To claim (foreign) priority, you must first indicate the date and country of the prior right. After receipt of a respective official communication, within 2 months you shall file a copy of the priority document and mention the application number of the earlier application. Of course, you can provide all information relating to the priority claim when filing the German application. Read also about 5 useful lifehacks before trademark filing. 

 

If your mark contains non-Latin characters, you must provide a German translation, a transliteration, and a transcript of the non-Latin text of the mark. Certification of this data is not required unless requested by the office.

If you filed the list of goods and services in a language different than German you must file a German translation within 3 months of filing the application. Certification of this translation is not required unless requested by the office. Non-German words regularly used in German language don’t need to be translated. This is often the case with IT-related products and services, e.g., “router”, “server”, “computer”.

5. Trademark opposition process in Germany

 

Any interested parties have a three-month period from the publication of the registration of the mark to file an opposition.


If an opposition is validly filed, a prolongable cooling-off period commences during which the parties are encouraged to find an amicable solution. If no solution is found, the contradictory period commences during which the parties may exchange arguments. The office will review the evidence and arguments presented by both the trademark applicant and the opponent and decide whether the trademark registration should be revoked, partially revoked, or remain unchanged. Opposition can be based on older German or EU rights as well as designations of an International Registration with effect for Germany.

 

Decisions by the opposition division may be directly appealed to the German Patent Court (GPC), or “reminded” to another level within the DPMA, and then appealed to the GPC.

6. Trademark costs in Germany

 

Registration (at the time of publishing the article):

Professional fee including 3 classes€250
Professional fee per each class exceeding 3 classes€50
Official filing fees€290 (€300 if filed on paper) including 3 Nice classes
Official fees per each class exceeding 3 classes€100
Acceleration fee€200

 

Renewal in Germany (at the time of publishing the article):

Professional fee€30
Official renewal fees€750 including 3 Nice classes
Official renewal fees per each class exceeding€260

Opposition (at the time of publishing the article):

Professional fee€300
Official opposition fees€250 per mark on which the opposition is based
Official opposition fees per each additional mark on which the opposition is based€50


The trademark registration cost in Germany via the iPNOTE platform starts from as low as $538, which includes all government fees and document preparation. Find the best IP attorney in Germany on iPNOTE.

7. Why file a trademark in Germany?

 

To file a trademark directly in the country with the largest GDP makes sense for several reasons, for example:

  1. Fast and simple registration procedure: The registration process is simple, also for foreign applicants, as no power of attorney or certified translations are required. Registration, and consequently enforceability, of your mark may happen in only a few weeks, more regularly in a few months.
  2. Low costs: Official costs are very low including three classes.
  3. Low risk: As compared to a European mark, a German mark is only valid in Germany. What might sound as a disadvantage can also be an advantage: Examination on absolute grounds, for example, is based on German language, public, and understanding, not on any language spoken in the EU. Further, a single similar mark in any of the 27 EU member states may be sufficient to revoke an EU mark resulting in loss of thousands of Euros. Only signs with effect for Germany can be made the basis of an opposition procedure in Germany.
  4. Preliminary legal remedies: German marks are registered before opposition procedures may commence. EU marks are only registered after the lapse of the opposition period or the termination of opposition procedures. Because legal actions can regularly only be based on registered rights, to defend one’s brand in Germany at an early stage, for example in the form of a preliminary injunction, the registration of a local German mark is the least to say helpful.

8. Final thoughts

 

Registering a trademark in Germany can be a smart move for businesses looking to protect their brand in Europe. Moreover,  as Germany has the highest GDP within Europe, it is a crucial market for businesses seeking to establish their presence in the region.With a straightforward registration process, low costs, and low risk, filing for a German trademark provides numerous benefits

 

***

 

The iPNOTE platform features more than 700 IP law firms that cover more than 150 countries, so you can always find the right direct service provider using our flexible filtering system.

 

Need help with IP services in Germany? Contact JET IP now via iPNOTE to learn more and get started.

 

Sign up for free, and we’ll help you solve any IP-related problem.

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