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Formal requirements

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The electronic filing of documents at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office is subject to some formal framework requirements. Pursuant to Section 4 of the Ordinance on Electronic Legal Transactions with the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (Verordnung über den elektronischen Rechtsverkehr beim Deutschen Patent- und Markenamt ERVDPMAV) files must have a defined structure (form) and specifically defined file formats. Electronic transmission of documents at the DPMA is only possible if documents have the required form and the permitted file formats. The validation software DPMAdirektPro detects incorrect file formats or incomplete application documents even before sending off the request.

The OSCI data with a qualified signature, generated using the DPMAdirektPro software, may also be filed on a regular CD/DVD-ROM with the German Patent and Trade Mark Office. Data generated otherwise and/or data carriers which do not meet these requirements will not be accepted as an electronic document.

For the German application the character encoding must correspond to the UTF-8 standard. For the European application an encoding corresponding to Unicode UTF-8 is admissible.


Patents and utility models

The following formats are admissible for electronic filing in patent and utility model procedures at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (cf. also pdf-Datei Ordinance on Patent Procedures before the German Patent and Trade Mark Office, Annex 2 to Sec. 12):

Image file format  compression  Colour depth  Description 
TIFF  no compression or LZW or FAX group 4  1 bpp or (black and white)  maximum size: A4 and resolution: 300*300 dpi corresponding to 2480*3508 pixels (width*height) 
TIFF  no compression or LZW or FAX group 4  8 bpp (256 grey scales)  maximum size: A4 and resolution: 150*150 dpi corresponding to 1240*1754 pixels (width*height) 
JPEG  individual compression  24 bpp  maximum size A4 and resolution: 150*150 dpi; accepts shades of grey only 
PDF  no compression  black and white admissible only  The following typefaces (fonts) are allowed: Times (serif font, proportional); Helvetica (without serifs, proportional); Courier; Symbol (symbols). Colour graphics are not admissible. The use of restrictions of use for PDF files at file level by means of cryptographic means (encryption, deactivation of printing options) is not admissible 

The texts of application documents (description, claims and abstract, if any) of a patent or utility model application shall be drafted according to Annex F ST. 36 in PDF format and correspond to A4 format.
The PDF files should be text-based (PDF/A), i.e. scanned documents should not be filed as PDF file.
The PDF files shall not be encrypted nor signed, nor shall they contain any active elements or notes.

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Trade marks

The formatting is published in the Announcement of 14 January 2019

Designs

The following image formatting will be accepted:

Image file format  JPEG (*.jpg) 
resolution   minimum 300 pixels 

The file shall not exceed 2 MB in size.

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Substantive formal requirements for declarations of intent requiring written form

Please note that written declarations of intent, which have to be submitted to the DPMA and which become complete upon receipt, can only be validly filed in electronic form via the DPMAdirektPro application platform if the person making the declaration adds his/her name and affixes a qualified electronic signature to the electronic document. An advanced signature using an Online Services Smart Card of the European Patent Office (EPO card) is not sufficient.

This applies in particular to

  • the declaration of willingness to grant a licence under patent law (Sec. 23(1) Patent Act) and
  • the declaration to surrender a patent or utility model (Sec. 20(1) no. 1 Patent Act; Sec. 23(3) no. 1 Utility Model Act).

Filing a "classic" paper-based application is still possible.

Background:
The provisions of the Ordinance on Electronic Legal Transactions with the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (ERVDPMAV) on the filing of electronic documents with the DPMA apply only to procedural acts, but not to declarations of intent in legal transactions. Substantive formal requirements therefore remain unaffected by the provisions of the Ordinance on Electronic Legal Transactions with the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (ERVDPMAV) (see Sec. 1(2) ERVDPMAV).

Declarations of intent which must be submitted to the DPMA, which become complete upon receipt and for which the written form is prescribed by law (for example in Sec. 23(1) and (7) Patent Act, Sec. 20(1) no. 1 Patent Act and Sec. 23(3) no. 1 Utility Model Act) are subject to the provisions of Sections 126 et seqq. of the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch [BGB]). They can only be effectively filed in electronic form if the person making the declaration adds his/her name and affixes a qualified electronic signature to the electronic document (see Sections 126(3) and 126a of the German Civil Code).


Legal basis

Illustration with blue and white cubes carrying legal paragraph signs

Electronic legal transactions with the DPMA are based on Section 125a of the Patent Act (Patentgesetz), Section 21(1) of the Utility Model Act (Gebrauchsmustergesetz) in conjunction with Section 125a of the Patent Act, Section 95a of the Trade Mark Act (Markengesetz) and Section 25 of the Design Act (Designgesetz), each referring to Section 130a(1), (2) first sentence, (5) and (6) of the Code of Civil Procedure (Zivilprozessordnung).

Electronic documents must be filed subject to the Ordinance on Electronic Legal Transactions with the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) (Verordnung über den elektronischen Rechtsverkehr beim Deutschen Patent- und Markenamt (ERVDPMAV)) (cf. Sec. 3, second sentence, Patent Ordinance [Patentverordnung], Sec. 2, second sentence, Utility Model Ordinance [Gebrauchsmusterverordnung], Sec. 2(1), third sentence, Trade Mark Ordinance [Markenverordnung], Sec. 4(1), second sentence, Design Ordinance [Designverordnung], Sec. 12 DPMA Ordinance [DPMA-Verordnung]).

Details concerning the filing of electronic documents are also laid down in the Ordinance on Electronic Legal Transactions with the DPMA, pursuant to Art. III Sec. 1(3) of the Act on International Patent Conventions (Gesetz über internationale Patentübereinkommen) in conjunction with Section 125a of the Patent Act.

The Ordinance on Electronic Legal Transactions with the DPMA determines the procedures and procedural acts for which documents may be filed electronically with the DPMA. Furthermore, it lays down the form in which the electronic documents must be filed and what kind of electronic signature must be used.

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Picture 1: iStock.com/djedzura, Picture 2: iStock.com/CrailsheimStudio

Last updated: 16/08/19 

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