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Trademarks and Designs

Applications and Defense



From the branded product to the defining logo, from the typical appearance of the product or the packaging to the well-known company logo – we meet up with trademarks and designs every day. However, when considering a product or a company name / corporate CI, the question often arises: Does protection as a trademark make more sense or protection as a design? Or might protection as a patent or as a utility model the better way?

To get straight to the point: A trademark protects the identification of products and/or services of a company, a design the appearance of a product.
However, it is possible to register a product for a patent (if there is technical character or technical effect), the external appearance as a design and the product name as a trademark - depending on its nature.

Trademark: facts and terms


Term for trademarks

There is wide range of marks, that are protected as trademark. This is because trademark protection in principle can be extended any number of times. Unlike a patent, whose protection ends in principle after a maximum of 20 years (with a short possibility of extension in the pharmaceutical sector), and unlike a design, whose protection ends in principle after a maximum of 25 years, trademark protection is granted for a specific period of time and can then be extended as often as desired by paying a fee.

Classification

In order to organize and systematize all of this, a system for the classification of trademarks has long been established, the so-called Nice Classification. When filing a trademark application, a suitable selection must be made within this classification - and, incidentally, the trademark must also be described accurately. The clou in trademark application is anyway: to achieve as much protection as possible, and at the same time to make oneself as little vulnerable as possible for challenges against the own trademark.

Defending protection

A trademark application can fail or be attacked for several reasons: Terms and also figurative elements must not be descriptive of the goods or services for which protection is claimed. A trademark must also have distinctive character, especially from the consumer's point of view, and must not lead to confusion with a trademark that is already protected. Other aspects such as exhaustion, non-use or trademark splitting provide only a small insight into the complex trademark law.

Types of protection of a trademark

A trademark can be registered nationally for individual countries, for example Germany, for the European Union or as an international trademark, with the corresponding scope of protection. Basically, words and terms (even slogans are basically protectable), word and figurative combinations, figures, colors, sound sequences, 3D shapes, and even taste can be protected as trademark. protection as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) or Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), such as Black Forest ham, port wine and champagne, is also possible.

Our offer: applications safe and quickly
We handle your applications safely and quickly. You benefit from this in several ways: a fast application for protection with full cost control and transparency. And the fewer disputes you have with the Office, the more cost-effective this process will be.
If defending a trademark or a design is your issue – please contact us for further discussion. Our patent attorneys are experienced and highly qualified.

Contact us for further information at: info@kollner.eu.

Design protection: facts and terms


Term for designs

The term for design protection generally ends after a maximum of 25 years. By the way, there are two terms in the context of design protection: design patent is a synonym for 'protected design'.

Classification

Analogous to trademarks, a system for classifying designs has been established for international designs / design patents, the so-called Locarno Classification. In principle, international design applications are easily possible for all participating states in the Hague Agreement; this now includes nine out of ten important economic markets, including China since May 5, 2022.

Protection defense

A design application can only fail for formal reasons - otherwise a design is immediately placed under protection, it is an "unexamined" property right. Conversely, this means that an unauthorized design must be contested.

A design application can be challenged primarily on two grounds, because the prerequisites for design protection are "individual character" and novelty. Consumers are also an important factor in this context; for example, the so-called "déjà vu" effect is important. Since the German Design Act (DesignG) came into force in 2014, a design registration for the target country Germany can be challenged with a nullity procedure before the DPMA; this is cheaper and easier than challenging in a court instance.

Types of protection of a design

A design can be registered nationally for individual countries, for example for Germany, for the European Union or as an international design, with the corresponding scope of protection. Especially for variants of a design a collective application is recommended. Basically, what is to be seen on the submitted image - and exactly what is to be seen - is the scope of design protection. This sounds clearer than it is in practice, as judicial decisions show.

Our offer: applications safe and quickly

We handle your applications safely and quickly. You benefit from this in several ways: a fast application for protection with full cost control and transparency. And the fewer disputes you have with the Office, the more cost-effective this process will be.

Contact us for further information at: info@kollner.eu.

If defending a trademark or a design is your issue – please contact us for further discussion. Our patent attorneys are experienced and highly qualified.


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