Good to know!
At this position we would like to give you some insight views of some specific legal issues which arise in the field of intellectual property.
In case of questions please address to the patent attorneys of this patent law firm.
No rights based on prior use regarding product names
Company A is selling products under the name product-X in Germany since some time. This brand is intensively used and is well introduced in the market. Company A missed to apply for a trademark registration for this designation – for financial reasons or for simply being unaware of the legal situation.
Some time later the identical designation product-X is applied for registration of a trademark by company B. The German Patent- and Trademark Office grants the registration of the trademark product-X to company B.
Company B now has the possibility to stop company A from further using the designation product-X.
So keep in mind: German trademark law does not recognize a prior use of a trademark.
Legal notice: in other countries than Germany different regulations may occur following different legal conclusions.
Patent law: no patent protection after publication
New developments or products can be monopolized by patent protection for a duration of a maximum of 20 years. A granted patent provides that it is prohibited to initiate the newly developed product.
According to the current legal situation in Germany grant of a patent only may be issued if the subject of the invention is new and inventive to the application for grant of a patent. It must not have been presented to the public beforehand.
We have made the experience that our clients often wanted to apply for patent protection for an invention which has already been presented to the public, for instance during a trade fair.
In many cases the inventor has been advised by a customer that his idea should have been protected by a patent but it often was too late. The remaining only possibility for obtaining protection in some particular cases is the filing of an application for an utility patent.
In a different way from German law in the US for instance the grant of a patent is still possible due to the novelty grace period provided by US law.
So keep in mind: When developing new products or developments it has to be – early enough – verified, if protection for this product via property rights should be considered.