European Patent Attorneys · Mandataires agréés près l'Office européen des brevets
European Trademark & Design Attorneys · Mandataires en Marques, Dessins & Modèles Communautaires

Technical Intellectual Property Rights

Technical intellectual property  (IP) rights protect the technical features of an invention. To obtain such a right, those features of an invention that constitute the essential difference compared to the prior art - i.e. that limit the invention against established knowledge - must be elaborated and described.

The combination of these deatures must be novel, i.e. must not have been known before.

The combination of these features must furthermore constitute an inventive step, meaning that, for a person skilled in the relevant filed, the invention would not have been obvious from the prior art.

A patent application must be filed at the patent office before an invention is publicly disclosed, as otherwise the invention will be included in the prior art against which the patent application is assessed.

The features must be descirbed in writing in the claims of the technical IP right.

It is furthermore important to limit the independent claim to the essential features constituting the actual invention. The features relating to details of the invention can then be described in further claims, which makr reference to the independent claim. Listing all the features in the independent claim limits the scope of protection of the IP right too severely.

We should be happy to offer you advice on individual issues, including both the assessment of inventiveness and the preparation and compilation of application documents.

We should also be glad to advise you in specific subject areas of patent law, such as issues relating to software patents.

Patents

Patents are technical IP rights obtained by filing an application, whereupon the patent office conducts a search and an examination procedure. On completion of the latter, the patent office decides whether or not to grant a patent.

A patent remains valid for a maximum of 20 years provided the maintenance fees are paid.

Applications may be filed for national or regional patents. In the former case, the application is filed at the patent office of the relevant country and in the latter ate the European Patent Office, for instance.

A further alternative is to file an International Patent Application (PCT-Application). On expiry of what is known at the Internationel Phase, this application may be processed by any designated national or regional offices for the grant of national or regional patents.

Utility Models

Utility models are non-examined IP rights that are initially registered as filed. Third parties may request their examination and routinely do so if rights deriving from the utility model are asserted against them. Utility model only protect inventions directed to devices, not processes or methods.

They are extended at multiannual intervals up to a maximum duration of 10 years.

A special feature of German utility models is that the prior art does not include publications

In such a case, you can still obtain a technical IP right in the form of a utility model even if you have already disclosed an invention to a third party.