Patents are granted to protect technical inventions which are not yet known, and which are distinguished from the known state-of-the-art by an "inventive step". This means that the invention could not have been found easily or by mere routine experiments. The notion of "technical" is interpreted in a broad sense: For example, software programs can be patented if they are based on technical considerations, for example if they serve to control a machine. On the other hand, some areas are excluded from patent protection for ethical reasons, for example processes for cloning human beings and uses of human embryos for commercial purposes.
It is essential that an application for a patent is filed with the Patent Office before the inventor discloses the invention to the public. That is because, when assessing novelty, any publication – even if by the inventor himself – is taken into account if it occurred prior to the filing day.
Technical intellectual property rights endow the owner with the right to keep any third party from using the owner's invention for commercial purposes. With this patent monopoly, which is limited to a period of 20 years, the state rewards the inventor for disclosing his innovation to the general public rather than keeping it secret, as was common in the medieval guilds. The disclosure enables others to improve their knowledge much more quickly and encourages them to conceive their own inventions.
Since its foundation, our law firm has been counselling multinational companies, medium-sized enterprises, universities, research institutes as well as single inventors in all areas of technology and natural sciences. We assist our clients especially in:
Identifying patentable inventions
Conducting novelty and freedom-to-operate searches
Drafting German and English language patent applications
Filing with the patent offices and prosecuting patent applications worldwide
Patent opposition and nullity proceedings
Infringement proceedings, including warning letters and preliminary proceedings
Non-disclosure agreements, license and research cooperation agreements