„Patents are granted for inventions that are new, based on an inventive step and are commercially applicable.“ (§ 1 (1) Patent Act)

Inventions must be in a technical area. Discoveries, scientific theories, mathematical methods, aesthetic creations, plans, rules and procedures for intellectual activities, for games or for business activities, programs for data processing systems (computers), reproduction of information, if not considered inventions, are therefore fundamentally not patentable patent protection is sought for such objects or activities.

An invention is new if it has remained secret until it has been filed with a patent office and has not been made available to the public by written or oral description, by use or in any other way. If the invention has already been made available to the public, utility model protection can still be obtained under certain circumstances.

To obtain a patent, the invention must be registered with the German Patent and Trademark Office (or the European Patent Office). Depending on where and how the application is made, patent protection for Germany alone, for several or all countries of the European Union plus additional countries (European patent) or for over 100 countries worldwide (PCT application) can be achieved with a single application. It is also possible to register the same invention with almost all patent offices worldwide within 12 months of the first filing, while maintaining the relevant time range for the novelty of the invention.

Upon request, the patent office will check whether the application meets certain requirements and whether the invention applied for is patentable. If these requirements are met, the patent is granted.

„The patent has the effect that only the patent owner is authorized to use the patented invention.“ (§ 9 (1) Patent Act)

Any third party is therefore prohibited from producing, offering, placing on the market or using a patented product or either importing or owning it for the purposes mentioned, or using a patented process or offering it under certain conditions. Exceptions exist, for example, in the private sector for actions for non-commercial purposes or for certain experimental purposes.

Patent protection lasts a maximum of 20 years, starting on the day after the filing date. An annual fee is payable for each application and patent for the third and subsequent year. If the annual fee is not paid, the patent expires and thus loses its effect.