Refrigerator, coffee filter, complex robots

Poster with patent drawings

To mark World Creativity and Innovation Day on April 21st, the German Patent and Trade Mark Office has revamped and enlarged its poster gallery of outstanding inventions – DPMA President: a treasure trove of fascinating stories

Press release of 19 April 2021

Munich. Inventiveness has many drivers: Almost 150 years ago, encouraged by a contest, Carl Linde, a professor of machine design in Munich, was chewing over how to design a machine that could generate low temperatures. In 1877 he had his refrigeration unit patented by the Imperial Patent Office (Kaiserliches Patentamt) – a revolution in refrigeration technology. The German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) has collected and visually presented this and many other outstanding inventions from Germany in a poster gallery in the past years. On the occasion of World Creativity and Innovation Day on April 21st, the DPMA has fundamentally revamped its gallery and added new posters. 41 inventions including the corresponding patent specifications are now available on the DPMA’s web pages at From A like autocar to Z like zeppelin, from the refrigerator of 1877 – the founding year of the German Patent Office – to the tactile robot of 2015.

“From brilliant workaday inventions to results of highly complex research: Our poster gallery shows what people are able to achieve in different areas with creativity and a spirit of innovation,” says DPMA President Cornelia Rudloff-Schäffer, adding: “The collection gives an overview of the history of German technology, allows a fundamental insight into the way many inventions work – and is also a treasure trove of fascinating stories and anecdotes.”

Did you know, for example, that Rudolf Diesel’s invention of the diesel engine was inspired by Carl Linde’s lectures? That Melitta Bentz created the prototype of her famous coffee filter using nails, a hammer and blotting paper? That it took 30 years from inventing the airbag to making it suitable for everyday use? And that a shoemaker from Bremen had developed a screw-in stud football boot ready for serial production some years before Adi Dassler, the founder of Adidas, did?

The DPMA poster gallery shows inventions from all regions of Germany. The oldest inventions for which a patent application was filed, such as the electric tram, mechanical television or the hole punch, date from the 19th century and thus from the early years of the – then “imperial” – patent office. How important new technical devices or methods really are can often not be seen until years or decades have passed. However, there are also modern inventions in the gallery, such as real-time magnetic resonance imaging, the mp3 compression technology and adaptive and tactile robots. “Innovation in Germany is, and will remain, vigorous and highly dynamic,” the DPMA President emphasises, adding: “I am confident that we will not run out of candidates for our poster gallery.”

Posters from the gallery are available in A3 size from the DPMA’s press office. Please contact us by e-mail at

The German Patent and Trade Mark Office

Inventiveness and creativity need effective protection. The DPMA is the German centre of expertise for all intellectual property rights – patents, utility models, trade marks and designs. As the largest national patent office in Europe and the fifth largest national patent office in the world, our office stands for the future of Germany as a country of inventors in a globalised economy. Its staff of just under 2,800 at three locations – Munich, Jena and Berlin – provide services to inventors and companies. They implement federal innovation strategies and develop the national, European and international IP systems further.

Picture: DPMA

Last updated: 19 April 2021