1. Brief Introduction into the German Design Law

An industrial design is in general legally protected by the German Designs Act "(DesignG), however, protection may also be obtained by registering a three-dimensional trademark.We offer our clients a wide range of industrial design services and in co-operation with patent attorneys and attorneys-at-law worldwide we are able to provide assistance for all queries relating to design applications and registration procedures.


The artistic nature of an industrial design, which may be seen as a work of fine art, can be made subject to copyright. creations with intended use, in other words a work of applied art and not necessarily of fine art (paintings, and the like) have to meet high demands regarding the level of originality. Product Designs especially, as well as advertising art, are subject to these high demands.


The risk of plagiarism can also meet with Unfair Competition Law. In this connection basically the principle of the general freedom of copying applies. Only in the case of avoidable fraud of origin, exploitation a good reputation or corrupt attainment of knowledge and/or information and/or material necessary for copying, the law allows for exceptions. Thus, if the law does not provide special protection, for example the Copyright of Designs, the principle of the general freedom of copying is valid.


An industrial Design in the sense of the German Copyright of Designs is the two-dimensional or three-dimensional form of appearance of a product or part of a product. The form of appearance of a product mainly results from the lines, contours, colors, shape, texture, materials and/or its ornamentation (§ 1 No. 1 German Design Act). An industrial Design protects a Design which is new and which exhibits an individual character (§ 2 para. 1 German Design Act). Apart from registered German Designs, registered Community Designs and the Hague System for the International registration of industrial Designs, there are unregistered Community Designs.

Protection periods

The holder of an unregistered Community Design has the right to prevent copying for a period of three years from the date on which the Design was first made available to the public. The registration of a Design gives the proprietor the exclusive right to use the Design. The protection period of a registered Design is 25 years. During the application and registration procedure of an industrial Design, only the formal requirements are examined. There is no substantive examination as to novelty and individual character. In case of disputes, these requirements are examined by the civil Courts.

2. Overview of services

Our services in the field of design law cover in particular:

The drafting and compiling of designs to be filed as a design application and entourage of our attorney-at-law during application and registration proceedings of

  • German registered designs
  • Registered Community designs
  • International registered designs
  • national foreign designs

 Additionally, we offer consultation in the following areas:

  • Industrial design searches
  • Managing and representing national and international industrial designs portfolios
  • Monitoring and renewal of industrial designs
  • Preparing and negotiating sales, license and coexistence agreements

We provide legal advice and representation

  • in infringement proceedings - warning letters, preliminary injunctions, filing lawsuits
  • in cancellation proceedings
  • for applying for action by customs authorities

Our power of representation includes the representation before the following Patent Offices, Courts and Organizations:

  • German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) in Munich
  • German District Courts and Higher District Courts German Federal Patent Court (BPatG) in Munich
  • German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) in Karlsruhe
  • Trademarks and Designs Registration Office of the European Union (previously known as Office of Harmonization for the Internal market, OHIM) in Alicante, Spain
  • European General Court (EuG, previously known as "Court of First Instance"), Luxembourg
  • European Court of Justice (ECJ) Luxembourg
  • World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Geneva

3. Filing a design application

Any natural or legal person, or anybody equivalent to a legal person, may apply for a German design and can obtain protection for this design in the European Union or worldwide. We are eager to be of assistance in all aspects when filing a design application.

Preliminary Work

We provide our clients with extensive legal advice before filing a design application at the German Patent and Trademark Office. We then examine whether the desired design fulfills the formal requirements for obtaining protection, in other words, we examine novelty and distinctiveness. This examination is not conducted by the German Patent and Trademark Office.Contact can be made in writing or by telephone, however, we would also be very pleased to arrange a personal consultation in our office.

Official Fees

When filing a German design application, official fees of the German Patent and Trademark Office are due and to be paid at the time of filing. The official fee for filing a single design application amounts to 70.00 EUR (subject to change). Once the application has been filed, registration of the German design will normally take several months. Should you be interested in receiving our Tariff of Charges, please contact us. Upon request, we would be happy to provide you with cost estimates.

Important to note

When filing a design application at the German Patent and Trademark Office, protection is obtained only for Germany. If protection of your design is desired in the European Union, a design application can be filed at the Trademarks and Designs Registration Office of the European Union (previously known as Office of Harmonization for the Internal market, OHIM) in Alicante, Spain. If further protection is sought outside of Germany and the European Union, either national applications can be filed in countries of your choice, or a single application for International registration can be filed at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Geneva, covering 62 contracting participating countries (status of January 14, 2015).