Can I register a trademark myself
Register your trademark: Protect your company from the competition
Definition of brand
The term brand is used in marketing for all properties of an object that are associated with a brand name. In simple terms, a brand can be used to specifically define which characteristics a company stands for. These characteristics are unique and differ from the characteristics of the competition. So that these special features of a product or service are not taken over by the competition, entrepreneurs can register their brand and thus protect the brand or have the brand registered. With this brand registration, however, certain guidelines must be observed in order to be able to register the brand name.
Registering a trademark - Permitted names
Basically, numbers, letters and graphics can be registered as trademarks. With the trademark protection of graphics, however, only the graphic is protected; the text it contains cannot be registered as a trademark. Color brands are also possible during brand registration if, for example, a new and completely unique color is available for the product. In addition, shape marks are also allowed for trademark protection. This also includes special bottles for drinks or special packaging materials. In the case of a hearing mark, on the other hand, a special sound can also be entered when registering, so that melodies can then be protected as a mark. But even here it is important that the trademarks for the trademark registration are easy to grasp and are not typical of a product type.
Register a trademark - Rejected names
When choosing a name, the principle applies that no generally used terms can be registered as a trademark. This means that well-known formulations, such as “to go” for coffee, should not be included in the brand name when applying for a trademark. In addition, names that are offensive or contain official symbols are prohibited in the trademark registration. Therefore, badges from the licensing authority or TÜV logos are not allowed when registering the brand.
In addition, the brand name must not deceive customers when registering the brand. If, for example, the addition “organic” is used, the guidelines for the organic products must also be verifiable so that the brand can be protected. And the uniqueness is also decisive when registering a trademark. Any similarities to other existing brands are prohibited. A term that describes the exact performance and the name of a service is therefore better. Because if the concept is new, this trademark registration will not yet exist on the market.
Registering a trademark - the costs
If you want to register a trademark, you have to take the costs into account beforehand. When registering a trademark, these can be divided into two areas:
- the official costs of the trademark office for trademark registration
- the costs of the attorney for research and registration of the trademark
The official fee for trademark registration is 300 euros. Registering with a trademark electronically is ten euros less. If the protection is extended, the German Patent and Trademark Office will charge another 750 euros so that the trademark can be protected.
If you do not want to register the trademark yourself, you can hire a specialist lawyer for trademark law. The lawyer can check the trademark beforehand, prepare all the documents for the trademark registration and ensure that the wording is correct. But this service is not cheap, it costs around 500 euros per trademark application. In principle, it is worthwhile to compare offers from law firms and agree on a fixed price.
The preparation of the trademark application
When preparing the trademark application, two steps are necessary in order to have the trademark registered:
Step 1: Contact the DPMA
Before entrepreneurs officially register a trademark, a so-called entry-level search at the German Patent and Trademark Office is a good idea. In this way, at the DPMA, it can be determined whether the brand name or certain features have already been assigned. And that's where the application for trademark registration is also filed. It is important that the future term of protection has to be determined in advance since a change in the law on January 14, 2019. Since then, the automatic protection period of ten years in which the trademark can be protected no longer applies.
Step 2: Fill out the application form for the trademark application
A completed application form is required for a legally valid application. This so-called "application for the entry of a trademark in the register" contains the most important information of the trademark application. This includes personal data, a detailed description of the brand and information on the means of payment.
The process after filing an application for trademark registration
The process of applying for a trademark application is as follows in order to have the trademark officially registered:
1. Submit the application for trademark registration
In order to officially start the application and thus have the trademark registered, the application must be officially submitted to the DPMA. This in turn is possible by post, fax or online with a user profile. From this day on, the trademark is temporarily protected by trademark registration.
2. Receipt of the confirmation of receipt
About 20 days after submitting the application, applicants will receive a confirmation of receipt. In addition, the necessary fees for the trademark application are then due. These will be withdrawn from the account.
3. Examination phase of the trademark registration
This is followed by the examination phase, which means that the trademark application is examined within three months. During this time, the DPMA compares the data and determines whether the applicant is allowed to register the trademark. Once this phase has been successfully completed, the entry in the register is pending and the trademark is published at the same time as the trademark registration.
4. Deadline for objecting to trademark registration
Now other entrepreneurs or private individuals have three months to object to the trademark registration. That could happen if someone thinks the brand is breaking the law. If this period expires, however, the applicant is the definitive owner. In general, it takes at least seven months from the first form to the legally protected trademark.
Register a trademark for Europe
Anyone who decides to register a trademark should still observe the international guidelines. Because the trademark rights for trademark names granted by the DPMA initially only apply to Germany. An additional trademark registration is required for Europe. This trademark registration for all member states of the EU and is referred to as a community trademark.
But before that, every trademark owner has to decide whether an application as a community trademark is even necessary. Because this entry costs another 900 euros. And there, too, an objection from competitors is possible. If only one person within the EU files an objection, the application and trademark registration will be stopped. Everything is regulated by the so-called European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). A trademark registration is also possible online.
Conclusion: registering a trademark is worthwhile
Even if it takes several months to register your trademark, the effort of trademark registration is worthwhile. Because it can completely ruin your laboriously built startup financially if your own products and features suddenly appear in the competition. Nevertheless, you should prepare well for the trademark application so that the high costs and effort pay off in the end. In general, it makes sense to plan a few more weeks for trademark registration in case unforeseen events come up. With good research and the necessary composure, your brand can be protected and then successfully built up again.
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