You save energy, time and money on a national and international level. Patent searching (specialised literature), scientific articles, trade fair brochures and office databases) helps you avoid duplicate (technical) design and uncovers the current prior art which has decisive importance for novelty and inventive step.
Reliable searches are particularly important in the case of utility models as these are registered at the DPMA without their claims being examined. Any third party can use a cancellation request to have the utility model examined for novelty, industrial applicability and inventive step. This is the same 'inventive step' as in patent law, cf. Federal Supreme Court of Justice in "Demonstrationsschrank", GRUR 2006, 842.
Designs are registered – in a similar manner to topology and utility models – without being examined for novelty and individual character. That is why design searching is of utmost importance. When applying for such an IP, you should have a clear picture of the relevant landscape. Searches provide you with information regarding existing, and therefore, prior designs – either as prior art (when expired) or as risk (when still in force).
Trademark searching is also important. Only by searching can you know whether your intended logo or trademark infringes any prior rights. The DPMA does not examine whether your trademark already exists in an identical or similar form. Therefore, as a company or a start-up, you should use searches prior to using or applying for your trademark to be registered. Searches prior to using your company name (company designation) minimise financial risks. Ongoing monitoring should also take place after your trademark has been registered (nationally, European and internationally) so that any dilution of your trademark can be countered at the earliest opportunity.
First step: check the OHIM database ...
Last updated 12 May 2014