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Trademarks

A trademark is a distinctive sign of a product or service.

Besides the trademark itself (word, logo, distinctive sound), the application for registration of a trademark must also contain the products and/or services for which the trademark is intended to have protection.

After filing the request, the German Patent and Trademark Office subjects the application to a substantial examination, before the trademark is entered in the trademark register.

A trademark must fulfil various requirements before it can be registered. For instance, the trademark must have the ability to distinguish the product/services applied for. There furthermore must not be a need for free use of the trademark for the product/services applied for. Basically, a trademark is registrable if it does not exclusively consist of signs which are descriptive of the products/services. In general, invented terms are therefore registrable.

The German Patent and Trademark Office will not examine whether older trademarks conflict with the use and registration of the trademark applied for.

A trademark can be extended by 10 years at a time without limit and entitles its owner to prohibit use of the protected sign or one which may be confused with it for the claimed products and services by third-parties.

Trademark protection may be acquired by means of national (single) trademarks, international trademarks and community trademarks. After application for a German base trademark, applications abroad may still be made conferring priority within 6 months, in which case they acquire the seniority of the German base trademark. It is of course also possible to request trademark protection abroad after the 6 months have elapsed. These applications, however, then acquire the seniority of the application date of the relevant foreign application.

After registration of the trademark, it may be denoted by the symbol "®" or "TM".