What you need to know
What can be registered as a German trademark?
A German trade mark can consist of any signs, in particular words (including personal names), or designs, letters, numerals, colours, the shape of goods, or of the packaging of goods or sounds.
In practice, this means that as long as your trade mark falls into one of the categories of trade marks accepted by the Office, and can be represented by the accepted formats, you can submit it as an application without having to represent it graphically.
A word mark consists exclusively of words or letters, numerals, other standard typographic characters or a combination thereof that can be typed
It is a trade mark where non-standard characters, stylisation or layout, or a graphic feature or a colour are used, including marks that consist exclusively of figurative elements
Figurative mark containing word elements
A figurative mark consisting of a combination of verbal and figurative elements
A shape mark consists of, or extends to, a three-dimensional shape. It can include containers, packaging, the product itself or its appearance.
Shape mark containing word elements
A shape mark that contains verbal elements.
A position mark consists of the specific way in which the mark is placed or affixed to the product.
A pattern mark consists exclusively of a set of elements which are repeated regularly.
A colour single mark is just that – a trade mark which consists exclusively of a single colour (without contours).
Colour (combination) mark
A trade mark which consists exclusively of a combination of colours (without contours)
A sound mark consists exclusively of a sound or a combination of sounds
A trade mark consisting of, or extends to, a movement or a change in the position of the elements of a mark.
It consists, or extends to, the combination of images and sound.
Hologram marks consist of elements with holographic characteristics.
To be eligible for registration, your trade mark must be distinctive
The signs that make up a trade mark must be capable of distinguishing the goods and services of one undertaking from those of another undertaking.
Your trade mark should be distinctive
Consumers should be able to recognise your sign for what it is, for example as an indication of origin. It should distinguish you from other companies in the marketplace so that you can protect and build your brand identity and value.
Your trade mark should not describe what you sell
Your trade mark should not monopolise a sign that merely describes the goods and/or services that you offer. Such signs should remain available for everybody: for you and your competitors.
The German trademark office examines the trade mark application for absolute grounds for refusal. Absolute grounds for refusal are for example:
- lack of distinctiveness
- descriptive terms that must be kept freely available for general use
- danger of deceiving the public
- an emblem of state included in the trade mark
- offence against public policy or accepted principles of morality
The German trademark office will refuse your trade mark application if it is believed not to fulfil these requirements.
You should conduct a search
During the registration procedure, the German Trademark Office does not check whether another trade mark already exists that is identical or similar to your trade mark you have applied for. After registration of your trade mark, proprietors of earlier trade marks can file an opposition against your trade mark. That is why you should conduct a search before filing an application to find out whether your intended trade mark might infringe earlier rights.
Exclusive right of use
Upon registration of the trade mark, its proprietor acquires the exclusive right to use the trade mark for the protected goods and services and deal with the trade mark. Trade marks may anytime be sold and transferred by their proprietor. The proprietor of a trade mark may also grant another person the right to use their trade mark, as trade mark license.
We take care of it.
Our lawyers have years of experience and extensive know-how in trademark law and registrations (we have registered over 4000 marks so far). We ensure that the registration of your brand is durable and successful.
Support from trademark registration to enforcing your trademark rights
From trademark registration to competent legal advice in the area of trademark infringement and trademark licensing you can count on us.
We protect your intellectual property throughout Europe
Feel free to contact us if your intellectual property has to be reliably protected – we’ll take care of it.