Trade marks identify products and services of an enterprise. They stand for the quality of an enterprise and are part of the company’s intellectual property, just like patents. A strong trade mark is a valuable asset.

Anyone can file a trade mark. Trade mark protection is available for words, letters, numbers, pictures, and even colours and sounds. Create a unique sign! Otherwise your application might be refused.

What is a trade mark?

Trade marks identify the goods and services of particular traders. Signs that are suitable for distinguishing products or services of a particular enterprise from that of other companies are eligible for trade mark protection. These signs may consist of words, letters, numbers, pictures, or even colours or sounds.

Trade mark protection in Germany arises from the entry in the register of the German Patent and Trade Mark Office and is subject to a prior application. Trade mark protection may also arise from due to intensive use of a sign in the in course of trade or from the fact that a sign is well-known.

Registration of a trade mark confers to its owner the exclusive right to use the trade mark in relation to the protected goods and/or services. Trade mark owners can sell and assign their trade marks anytime. The owner of a trade mark can grant others a right of use of the trade mark (trade mark licence).

A trade mark can be renewed indefinitely and last forever. If the renewal fee is not paid every ten years, the registration will be cancelled.

International registration available

Trade marks registered at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office are exclusively effective in the Federal Republic of Germany. If you wish to extend protection, you can apply for international registration at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO/OMPI). This application must be filed at national IP (industrial property) office.

What is an Union trade mark (community trademark/ european trademark)?

If you seek protection in the countries of the European Union, you can file an application for an Union trade mark at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). Detailed information is available at

Protection of indications of geographical origin

Pursuant to Regulation (EU) No. 1151/2012 (cf. also Sections 130 to 136 German Trade Mark Act)

  • protected designations of origin (PDOs), e.g. “Odenwälder Frühstückskäse” (cheese) or
  • protected geographical indications (PGIs), e.g. “Thüringer Rostbratwurst” (sausage)

may be registered for certain agricultural products and foodstuffs.

The application for registration of a geographical indication/ designation of origin must be filed at the DPMA. The examination is conducted in two stages, first by the DPMA and then by the European Commission, which also carries out registration.

Trade Mark Act and Trade Mark Ordinance

The legal basis for trade marks is laid down in the Markengesetz (Trade Mark Act) and the Markenverordnung (Trade Mark Ordinance).