A trademark allows competitors to distinguish their services and goods by a certain characteristic from the offers of other companies. Moreover, characteristics that are both meaningful and assertive on the market will contribute to the appreciation and reputation of the owner of a trademark. For these reasons, it is recommended to carefully plan the design and protection of trademarks and, where required, seek expert legal advice.
The Trademark Act also protects company symbols and work titles as commercial identifiers as well as geographical indications.
Next to word marks, trademark law covers figurative marks, combined word and figurative marks, colour marks and others.
By registering a trademark, the owner secures the right to prevent third parties from using a symbol without his permission which, due to its resemblance or identity as well as the resemblance or identity of the goods or services, might create any likelihood of confusion among the public. With any case of infringement of a trademark legislation, the owner of a trademark, next to damage claims, can also enforce the right to information and injunctive relief against the violator of his property right.
Before using or registering a trademark, it is recommended to verify if there are any longer standing rights of third parties for this trademark. This helps to avoid damage claims, information claims or injunctive relief claims respectively opposition proceedings and the cost involved.
It is equally recommended to check before registering a trademark if there are any grounds for refusal against this trademark as otherwise the registration might be rejected.
At the DPMA (Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt, German Patent and Trademark Office) a national trademark can be registered. Additionally, there is the possibility to get international trademark protection as well. Besides that, it is also possible to register a Community trade mark which is effective within all EU member states.