Trademarks characterize products and services. They can stand for the quality of an enterprise, are part of the intellectual property of the enterprise and constitute an asset.

Everybody can apply for the registration of a trademark. Words, illustrations, characters, numbers, colors and acoustic signals can be protected as a trademark. Accessible to trademark protection are trademarks which are suitable to distinguish goods or services of one enterprise from goods or services of other enterprises.

Trademark protection is obtained by registration in the trademark register of the German Patent and Trademark Office. But trademark protection can also accrue from secondary meaning acquired by a mark as a result of its intensive use in business or by notoriousness. With the registration of a trademark the trademark owner acquires the exclusive right to use the trademark for the goods and/or services which are protected by it. The owner of a trademark may license the use of his mark to third parties.

A trademark can be renewed as often as desired. A renewal fee has to be paid after ten years, respectively.

Trademarks which are registered at the German Patent and Trademark Office are effective exclusively for the region of Germany. If it is desired to extend protection, a request for international registration (IR) can be filed. If protection is desired in the countries of the European Union, the filing of a community trademark is recommended.

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