A trade mark is used to distinguish goods or services of one person from those of others. Apart from trade marks, Germany also accepts collective marks and certification marks. Those signs which can be protected by the trademark law include: wording including personal names, designs, letters, numerals and noteworthy, acoustical signs and three-dimensional configurations. Appellations of geographical origins can be registered as well. Marks including national emblems, official test marks, signs of quality and identifications of international intergovernmental bodies, and those marks without distinction cannot be registered. Apart from registered trademarks, German trademark law also protects those marks which have acquired prominence through actual use in the course of trade, those well-known marks within the meaning of Article 6bis of the Paris Convention, and those company symbols and titles of works which can be considered as trade designations.

In order to seek trademark registration, an application must be filed to the DPA in Munich. After examination, if the DPA considers that the application meets the prerequisites for registration, it shall arrange the publication if this mark on the Trademark Gazette (Markenblatt). A person claiming priority may oppose the registration within three months after publication.

Upon registration the owner is entitled exclusive right to use this mark on his products and may prohibit others from registering and using this mark for goods and services that are similar or identical to those for which he has registered his mark. The period of protection is ten years from the application date and upon expiration it can be extended for additional ten years periods without limitation. A trademark owner can assign or license his mark to other parties. If the proprietor of a registered mark fails to use the mark for five consecutive years, the mark can be removed from the Trademark Register upon cancellation action by a third party.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.