The patent is an industrial property right that gives you, as the owner, the exclusive right to dispose of your invention. No one else may make use of the patented invention without your consent. Except in exceptional cases regulated by law, for example, no one may manufacture, offer, market or import patented products or use patented processes without a license. This protective right is generally valid for a period of up to 20 years.
Patents can be granted for inventions from all fields of technology that are
- are new
- are based on an inventive step and
- are industrially applicable.
Novelty: An invention is new if it does not belong to the prior art. Prior art includes all knowledge that was available to the public worldwide in any conceivable way before the application for the invention in question was filed. This may be the case, inter alia, through written or oral descriptions, use or exhibition. Written descriptions include, for example, books, journals, and patents. An oral description is, for example, a presentation at a conference.
Information that you have published yourself also counts as prior art. As an inventor, therefore, always take care to keep your invention secret before filing an application.
- Inventive step: Even if your invention is new worldwide, it does not automatically have to lead to a patent. Inventive step means that the innovation must differ sufficiently from the prior art. Patent protection is not granted if the innovation is obvious and therefore minor.
- Industrial applicability: Industrial applicability is given if the invention can be made or used in any industrial field, including agriculture.
- Technical invention: A patent is granted only on technical inventions. The constant advancement of science and technology continues to redefine the areas of what patent protection can be obtained for.
When you apply for a patent for your invention, you must disclose it in the application documents so clearly and completely that a person skilled in the art can readily carry it out. Subsequent expansion of the technical information is not permitted.
On the other hand, patent protection is not possible for, among other things:
- Discoveries (finding something existing that was previously unknown, for example, magnetism),
- scientific theories,
- mathematical methods,
- aesthetic creations of form (you can apply for design protection for form and color creations),
- plans, rules and procedures for intellectual activities (such as construction plans, cutting patterns or teaching methods),
- business activities (such as organizational models or accounting systems),
- Reproduction of information (such as tables, forms, or type arrangements),
- computer programs as such (without technical reference),
- inventions, the exploitation of which would be contrary to morality or public order,
- the human body at the stages of its formation and development, including germ cells, as well as the mere discovery of one of its components, including the sequence or partial sequence of a gene,
- procedures for surgical or therapeutic treatment of the human or animal body, as well as diagnostic procedures,
- animal breeds and plant varieties, as well as essentially biological processes for breeding plants and animals and the plants and animals obtained thereby.
If you wish to apply for a patent for an invention at the German Patent and Trademark Office, you must provide a comprehensive description of the invention that enables a person skilled in the art to understand and carry out your invention.