Protection of intellectual property
Trademarks are a means of lending certain goods or services in business transactions an individual character as far as origin and quality are concerned.
Nowadays, an image or a strong feeling springs to mind when visualizing certain well-known trademarks. Consumers often remain profoundly loyal to a particular trademark. The high economic importance of trademarks is reflected in the large number of registered trademarks - currently 10 million throughout the world. What is probably the most famous trademark world wide, COCA COLA, is estimated to be worth 84 billion US dollars. It is easy to see, therefore, that a trademark often represents the most valuable asset a company possesses.
Trademark protection in Germany or throughout Europe can be achieved through application to register a mark at the German Patent and Trademark Office or the Community Trademark Office (OHIM). International registration provides protection of a trademark throughout the world. Protection commences once the trademark has been recorded in the Trademark Register and can be upheld indefinitely on payment of renewal fees every 10 years.
The following can be registered as trademarks:
Words including private or company names and entire sentences (e.g. NIVEA, United Colors of Benetton) and creative advertising slogans.
Illustrations such as graphics, logos, labels, seals, pictures, photographs and graphic arrangements of letters, words, numbers (e.g. the Bayer cross or the Mercedes star).
Letters and combinations of letters, characters and numbers (e.g. GTI, SL, 4711).
Combination trademarks, for example words combined with pictures (e.g. gramophone plus dog).
Sound marks, (e.g. radio jingles).
Three-dimensional arrangements including the shape of a product or its packaging (e.g. square shape of Ritter Sport bars of chocolate, shape of LEGO bricks).
Tracer marks (for textiles, cables, wiring, hosing).
Event marks (for events such as olympia or football games)
Other means of presentation including colors and color combinations (e.g. purple for a particular brand of chocolate, the green stripe of the Dresdner Bank, color arrangements at filling stations such as blue and white for Aral or yellow and red for Shell).