Industrial property rights & competition law
»The business concept – development, support and protection
For many of our clients, intellectual property is a key differentiator on the market and therefore their strongest asset. Even before new products or services are developed and launched onto the market, it is necessary to establish whether the inherent idea can be protected under German or international regulations or, on the other hand, whether it may breach the industrial property rights of a third party. In particular, it should be verified whether the developed innovation is to be registered as a trademark, patent or utility patent, whether this can be secured even before the market launch and/or whether the visual appearance of a product can be legal protected as regards its design or at least in terms of competition law. Any preferential rights of third parties therefore already must be taken into account during the specific development phase for new business concepts.
Once the intellectual property of a company or an individual has been protected by law, this must be globally defended against competitors and product piracy. Imitators are to be identified within the scope of “trademark monitoring”. In this way, the necessary defensive measures can be initiated in a timely and effective manner. We have a wealth of experience in advising our national and international clients throughout Germany, Europe and globally with the acquisition, maintenance and, above all, defence of industrial property rights (trademark, patents, utility patents and designs) before the competent authorities and courts.
In particular, in the critical markets (e.g. China), we work closely with cooperation partners who have been personally known to us for many years and experts in the local legal situation. We design and review warning letters, represent our clients in infringement and cancellation procedures and attend licensing agreement negotiations. In the domain of the patent system, we cooperate with an extensive network of renowned patent attorneys’ offices in all disciplines, both in Germany and abroad, and coordinate our clients’ patent application strategies.
We also offer our clients comprehensive advice on related issues, such as the necessity of product labelling (e.g. CE marking, and labelling which is compliant with food and cosmetic regulations). In this way, we coordinate the activities of certification authorities and engage actively and reactively with market surveillance authorities.
»Marketing, advertising and sales
Both the sale of products in itself and their advertising strategy principally must be orientated around the provisions of competition law. Our clients therefore already benefit from our expertise when planning their marketing strategies. We examine client advertising campaigns and offer support during their realisation. If necessary, we can deal with warning letters and provide representation in court proceedings – in particular also in proceedings relating to interim legal protection.
All marketing and sales strategies are realised within a competitive market. Trademark, design and patent rights of third parties can undermine one’s own entire business endeavour if competitors claim forbearance or otherwise assert that the particular product or service can no longer be distributed due to an infringement of these rights.
However, industrial property rights also provide an opportunity to set oneself apart from ones competitors, which can be specifically leveraged in order to maintain and strengthen their own market position. For many years, our solicitors have been offering advice, both nationally and internationally, on the strategic use of industrial property rights and making the most of opportunities for action under competition law. We are pleased to be able to support our clients in Germany and abroad with the wealth of our experience both extra-judicially and in court proceedings. This is particularly the case in China, where we work closely with cooperation partners who have been personally known to us for many years and who rank among the leading legal experts for the local market.
»Technology and knowledge transfer (licens-es)
Companies frequently ask whether intangible assets (trademarks, technology, knowledge, designs, etc.) should be developed exclusively in-house or outside the company as well. Here, we have been advising our clients for many years in the structuring and legally sound composition of research and development contracts (R&D) with cooperation partners. If, following on from the development of intellectual property, the company must decide whether it only wants the invention to be utilised by itself or whether it wishes to generate an additional source of income through the conclusion of licensing agreements, our attorneys will bring in their expertise across all legal fields in intellectual property law as well as, in particular, cartel, company and distribution law.
In many cases, it is inevitable that a company will have to ‘buy in’ intellectual property which is already available on the market in order to realise its own business concepts. We provide our clients with all of the knowledge required to draft meaningful licensing agreements. To this end, we cover the entire legally relevant spectrum, up to and including sales cartel law. In this way, we ensure that our clients’ interests are realised in the best possible way.
Copyright protection not only covers the services of artists, but may also extend to those provided by engineers, software developers, journalists, scientists, architects and other occupational groups. Copyrights arise with the creation of a work, without the need for official documents such as a register entry. For this reason, copyrights are particularly susceptible to infringements by third parties.
In this context, we support our clients with optimum protection and the commercial use of their work products, for example, in connection with concluding licensing agreements, with issuing warnings or defending warnings made against them, and in court.
»Industry knowledge and internationality
Every industry has specific legal requirements and challenges relating to the sale of products and services. Our solicitors have specific expertise in the fields of healthcare and computer software, as well as in the mechanical and plant engineering and automotive sectors. We also have many years of experience in advising companies operating in state-regulated industries (such as the gaming industry).
In all areas of industrial property and copyright law, our customers benefit from our broad knowledge of different areas of law, our specific industry knowledge and our international approach. Our client base extends outside of Germany, with foreign companies trusting us to advise them and protect their intellectual property both in Germany and abroad. We have a particular focus on supporting companies from the Asian economic region, who are looking to operate in Germany, and conversely we work for our clients from the German judicial area together with cooperation partners in the Asian judicial area, in particular in China, who have been personally known to us for many years. Our cooperation partners rank among the leading legal experts for the local market.
»Litigation under competition law
Judicial disputes in competition cases are determined on the basis of various legal and effective factors. On the one hand, industry knowledge is highly sought after as industry practices often determine the framework of what is permissible under competition law. However, it is also of uttermost importance to have a specialised technical knowledge which takes into account the specificities of competition law cases.
During our many years of experience in commercial legal advice, we have become specialist, among other things, in conducting legal proceedings and asserting the interests of both companies and associations.