A patent protects new technical inventions. A patent owner is granted the privilege to exclusively dispose of his invention within a limited region and for a fixed period of time. He can interdict any unauthorized commercial use of the patent, and he can economically profit from an invention.
In return, there are certain legal obligations on part of a patent owner. With the filing of a patent application a patent owner agrees that his invention is published. Thus a patent can serve to other inventors as a measure and basis of further developments in the respective technical field.
Patents play an important part in managerial decisions. Patent literature searches help to avoid expensive and unnecessary double developments. They also help to prevent the risk of infringing foreign protective rights. The number of patent applications filed and/or the number of patents which are maintained by a company speak for a company’s innovation potential. They are an important factor for the assessment of companies.
A patent is obtained if a legally prescribed procedure is passed through with a positive result. The protective right and the right to forbid become effective only with the grant of a patent.
A granted patent is retrospectively effective as of the filing date and for a maximum period of 20 years. Inventions concerning pharmaceuticals and pesticides are an exception. After the expiration of the maximum patent duration they can be protected for additional five years under certain circumstances by supplementary protection certificates.
The rights from a granted German patent can be claimed only within Germany. To extend the protection of a patent also to foreign countries, the filing of European or international patent applications is recommended, though the filing of national applications in foreign countries is also possible.