Germany - Country Commercial Guide
Protecting Intellectual Property
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In any foreign market, companies should consider several general principles for effective protection of their intellectual property. For background, please refer to our resources on Protecting Intellectual Property and

Several general principles are important for effective protection of intellectual property (“IP”) rights in Germany. First, it is important to have an overall strategy to protect your IP.  Second, IP may be protected differently in Germany than in the United States.  Third, rights must be registered and enforced in Germany under local laws.  For example, your United States trademark registrations, design or utility patent titles will not protect you in Germany without further administrative procedures in the corresponding regional (EU) or local levels.  

Most copyrighted works created in the United States will be automatically protected in Germany from the moment of creation or publication according to international agreements. However, the extension of protection will vary according to the laws of Germany and of the EU. Protection against unauthorized use will vary depending on the national laws of each country.  

Obtaining a utility patent in EU Member States is based on a first-to-file system, i.e. the first person or entity to register the patent becomes the title holder.  Similarly, most trademark and design rights – similar to a design patent – are based on a first-to-file registration system. So, you should consider how to obtain patent, design, or trademark protection before introducing your products or services into the German market. Better yet, you should consider having an IP strategy for the whole world even before making your intellectual property public in any country, to ensure that you do not lose the right outside the United States.  

Further, keep in mind that trademark and design titles can be obtained for the whole of the EU, at the European Union Intellectual Property Office – EUIPO. Individual titles for Germany can also be obtained at the corresponding IP office. Similarly, a bundle of patent titles can be obtained for various countries through a simplified process at the European Patent Office; an individual patent title can be directly obtained from the German Patent and Trade Mark Office. There are also other international registration systems like the Patent Cooperation Treaty for patents or the Madrid Protocol for trademarks, that could be useful to facilitate the protection of your IP in many countries of the world, including Germany.

For more information on EU-wide matters regarding IP, please refer to European Union Country Commercial Guide article on protecting intellectual property.

The IP Attaché for Germany is Rachel Bae, whose contact information can be found here.

For more information, contact ITA’s Office of Standards and Intellectual Property Rights (OSIP) Director, Stevan Mitchell at

To access Germany’s Investment Climate Statement, which includes information on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, visit the U.S. Department of State Investment Climate Statements website.