Trade Mark Protection
Trade Marks are distinctive marks for the distinction of the goods and services of a company from the goods and services of another company. According to established law not only companies can apply for the registration of their goods and services but everybody can apply for anything. Word marks or figurative marks and combined marks can be protected. The protection extends beyond the goods or services applied for and applies for similar goods and services. In the same way the protection doesn’t only extend on identical but also on marks which are similar to the protected mark.
In contrast to inventions or registered designs a trade mark doesn’t have to be new on the day of application. However, if somebody is the owner of an identical or similar or older trade mark he can take action against a newer trade mark application.
The Patent and Trademark Office examines whether there are absolute obstacles of registration for instance whether the mark is descriptive, has distinctness or includes a national coat of arms. Following to this examination the trade mark is registered and this registration is published. An opposition period of three months is then starting. Within this period other companies may file an opposition because of protected trade marks which are confusingly similar and which are protected for similar goods and services. Now the Office examines whether or not the filed trade mark is confusingly similar to the older trade mark.
Trade marks have to be used within five years from the date of their registration. Later on the use may not be interrupted for more than five years. A trade mark which has not been properly used is cancelled upon request. As to such a trade mark a successful opposition is not possible The duration of a German trade mark is ten years. The duration may be extended at will for ten years by payment of a fee.
Since even in foreign countries trade marks don’t have to be new on the day of application old trade marks used for many years can be filed in a foreign country unless nobody else anticipated.