Patents shall be granted for any inventions, in all fields of technology, provided that they are new, involve an inventive step and are susceptible of industrial application. An invention is new if it has not been globally accessible to the public before the filing date. An inventive step exists if a person skilled in the art solves a technical problem in a non-obvious manner. The result of the inventive step must go beyond what can be expected by an average skilled in the art having knowledge of the technical state of the art in his or her field of endeavour. An invention is commercially applicable if it can be manufactured or used in any technical field including agriculture.
E.g. constructions of new machines and devices, food products, luxury food and drugs as well as chemical substances can be patented. In addition, manufacturing and working methods can be protected. Medical or business methods, inventions in the areas of science, arts or literature, so-called instructions to the human mind, which include e.g. game rules, instructions for use or teaching methods, as well as inventions violating public order and good morals cannot be protected.
In case of a German national application, the filing of a request for examination is followed by the examination procedure of the application by the German Patent and Trademark Office. The examination procedure leads to the desired granting of the patent or to the rejection of the application. If the patent is granted, third parties have a delay of nine months to file an opposition against the granting of the patent. The opposition is either rejected or leads to the revocation of the patent.
Within one year from the filing day of the initial application (priority year), there is the possibility to submit applications abroad, a European application, a complementary German patent application claiming the inner priority or a utility model application corresponding to the initial patent application. With respect to the patentability, these subsequent applications are treated as if they had been submitted on the day of the initial application.
The term of a patent is 20 years from the day of filing.