Trade Mark Protection
What is a trade mark?
A trade mark is used to identify the goods or services of an enterprise. Signs that are suitable for distinguishing goods or services of an enterprise from those of another enterprise can be protected as trade marks. These can be, for example, words, letters, numbers, images, but also colours and sounds.
Trade mark protection arises from registration in the Register of the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA). Before registration, an application must be filed. Trade mark protection may also arise from its level of recognition acquired through use, that means by intensive use of the sign in trade or by its general reputation.
Exclusive right of use
Upon registration of the trade mark, the proprietor acquires the exclusive right to use the trade mark for the protected goods and services. Trade marks may anytime be sold and disposed of by the trade mark proprietor. The proprietor of a trade mark may also grant another person the right to use their trade mark, what is referred to as trade mark license.
The DPMA does not check whether another trade mark exists that is identical or similar to your trade mark. That is why you should conduct a search before filing a trade mark application to make sure that your selected trade mark does not infringe third party rights. Otherwise, an opposition might be lodged at the DPMA against your trade mark and, it might have to be cancelled. Your trade mark might also be challenged by a cease-and-desist order or actions brought before the civil courts.
A trade mark may be renewed indefinitely. It may have eternal life, so to speak. However, the trade mark will be cancelled if the renewal fee is not paid after a respective ten-year period.