What can be Granted as a Patent
A patent can cover any technical device or method. It may also be some computer software as far as it solves some technical problem.
Not patentable are business models (except in the USA) and methods for treatment of the human body (instruments and pharmaceutics are patentable). The German patent law also excludes machines ignoring physical principles like a perpetuum mobile.
Before Filing a Patent Application
- Keep your invention secret until you filed the patent application.
- Prepare a document describing all technical features. This also helps you to completely understand the invention and to clarify remaining issues.
Preparing a Patent Application
In the next step a search for prior art should be done. This helps in estimating your invention’s value and finding possible weak points.
Now it is time to prepare a patent application. Starting from prior art the invention is disclosed and explained by examples and drawings. At the end are claims which define the scope of protection. There are many formal requirements to be met.
The best investment you can do in the life of a patent application is the investment into writing the application text. It must contain any information you may need at a later stage of the patent application or patent. Some examples are:
- Disclosure of relevant prior art
- Complete description of the invention
- Advantages of the invention
- Technical problem which is solved by the invention
- Examples of the invention, preferably with drawings
- Material for arguments why the invention is inventive over the prior art
It is important to know that you can amend the claims later in the examination procedure as far as it is disclosed in the description. It is not possible to add new matter.
First Filing of a Patent Application
There are several options for the first filing of a patent application:
1. DE filing with the GPTO
- Cheapest option
- Examination report within 10 months
- Only German language
- A German Patent may be granted
2. EP filing with the EPO
- More expensive than DE filing
- Examination report between 3 and 8 months
- Languages: English, French, German
- An European Patent may be granted
3. WO filing with the WIPO
- More expensive than EP filing
- Examination report between 15 and 30 months
- Languages: English, French, German, …
- National patent applications may be filed in most states of the world within 30 months
Latest within one year after the first filing you may initiate either
1. National Filings
- National filing at national patent offices in most statest of the world; or
2. PCT filing with the WIPO
- An “International Patent Application” may be filed with the WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization.
These filings may be identical with the first filings or they may be improved applications containing new knowledge. Claiming the priority of the first filing allows the later filings to receive the filing date of the first filing. Furthermore a decision about the individual national filings may be based on the examination report from the first filing.
A PCT application is a convenient way to file national patent applications in most state of the world. Furthermore you have additional time for doing so. A PCT application gives you at least 30 months from the first filing (priority) before you must file the national applications.
Approximately one year after filing the PCT application you receive a detailed examination report issued from the WIPO. This helps you to better estimate your chances in national patent applications. Furthermore you have the chance to amend your patent application. This replaces individual amendments in many states and further helps to reduce costs.
PCT National Phases
Latest within 30 months after the first filing you may initiate national phases in most states of the world. You can delay your decision until that time.
Examination of a Patent Application
In some states patents are simply registered by the Patent Office.
In most states patent applications are examined by the Patent Office. There an examiner reviews the patent application and searches for prior art. Then the examiner issues an examination report. This report contains a statement on novelty and inventiveness. If the examiner finds any formal defects or lacking novelty or inventiveness you may amend the claims and file arguments on novelty and inventiveness. Again the examiner will review the amended application and the arguments. These steps may repeat several times according to the national law. Then finally a patent is granted or the patent application is rejected.
Making Use of Your Patent
Any time after the first filing you may negotiate with others about using the invention. You may conclude a license agreement allowing the licensee to use your invention in exchange for payment.
Munich – location of the Patent Offices
The European Patent Office and the German Patent and Trademark Office are headquartered in Munich. For this reason we have our Office in Munich. more…
The description above shows the typical options and is based on our experience. It is no legal advice.