In the examination procedure, the patent examiners of the DPMA check if your invention meets the following criteria:
- inventive step
- industrial applicability
Furthermore, the invention must have a technical character.
The patent is the only IP right granted by the DPMA after a very extensive examination for novelty.
Preliminary examination of the application
By filing the application documents and paying the application fee you secure the date relevant for the priority of your application.
We will then perform a preliminary examination of your application.
The documents will be examined for compliance with formal requirements. We also check the application for obvious bars to patentability. In addition, we will classify the invention according to the technical field using the International Patent Classification, an internationally recognised, very detailed classification scheme.
Request for examination
In order to actually obtain a patent, you must file a request for examination and pay the examination fee of EUR 350. Only then the office will carry out the substantive examination of your application required for granting a patent.
You have seven years from the filing date to file the examination request. From the third year after filing, annual fees must be paid to maintain an application in force.
You can file a separate search request concerning your application before filing a request for substantive examination. In that case, we will inform you which documents might be of relevance for assessing the patentability of your invention.
Publication of the application
Your application will be kept secret for 18 months and then be published. A notice advertising the first publication of the application (the so-called ‘Offenlegungsschrift’) will be published on the DPMAregister platform. The published application will be available in the DPMAregister database from the first publication date.
This enables the public to obtain information on the state of the art. The 18-month secrecy period is meant to give the inventor time to further pursue the application or withdraw it before the first publication.
This publication will be issued whether or not you have filed an examination request.
Official communications (office actions)
If you have filed a request for examination of your application, a patent examiner will determine the state of the art relevant for your invention and examine whether a patent can be granted against this background.
If the patent examiner finds that your invention is new, involves an inventive step and is suitable for industrial application, and if your application complies with all other formal requirements, he will issue a patent.
If your invention does not meet the requirements or if your application has other defects, the patent examiner will send you an official communication informing you of any deficiencies.
You then have the opportunity to respond within in a time limit fixed in the communication and to remedy deficiencies. Please note that amendments may not go beyond the scope of the original disclosure, that means the description of your invention submitted on the date of filing.
If the result of the examination is positive, a patent will be issued. In analogy to the publication of the application, a notice of grant will be published in the relevant part of the patent gazette (‘Patentblatt’) and will be searchable within the DEPATISnet and DPMAregister databases.
Anybody can oppose the grant of a patent within nine months from the publication of the patent specification. If no opposition is filed, the patent becomes legally valid upon expiry of the opposition period. The patent will then become valid retroactively from the date of filing for a period of up to 20 years.
The notice of opposition allows the opponent to state the reasons why he considers the patent to be unlawful. Within the scope of the fee-based opposition procedure, a panel of members of a patent division of the DPMA re-examines whether the patent meets requirements for grant or maintenance. The patent will be either revoked or maintained as granted or in an amended form of more limited scope.
Appeals against decisions in opposition procedures can be lodged at the Federal Patent Court (Bundespatentgericht).
Even after expiry of the opposition period, a patent in force can be challenged by an action for the declaration of nullity brought before the Federal Patent Court.