The German Patent Office operates a deferred patent examination system under which patent applications remain dormant until the applicant takes steps to initiate the examination procedure.
After filing, assuming formal requirements have been met and unless an optional request for a prior art search is filed, the application will remain dormant until a request for examination of the application is filed.
The applicant may choose to file the request for examination at any time but if the request is not filed within seven years from the filing date, the application lapses. Fees are payable upon filing the request for examination and maintenance fees must be paid in the meantime if the application is to be kept in force.
The following comments may help applicants to decide how to proceed:
- If the invention is of immediate commercial value in Germany and is likely to result in a strong patent, it would be desirable to initiate the examination procedure without delay.
- If the invention is of commercial value but is not likely to result in a strong patent, the best course may be to do nothing to speed the examination procedure and rely on the application’s deterrent effect; under the deferred examination system all patent applications are laid open to public inspection at an early stage.
- If the commercial value of the invention is as yet open to doubt, expense will be saved or postponed by leaving the application dormant as long as possible or until the doubt is resolved.
If you need further advice, please contact us to see how we can help.
This information is simplified and should not be taken as a definitive statement of law of practice.