When you are planning to file a foreign patent in Germany you have several options on how to file it. You can choose the PCT route if you are looking to achieve patent protection in several countries worldwide. With a PCT application, you can enter the national phase in all 153 member countries and benefit from a 30- or 31-month deadline.
If you are mainly interested in European countries an application with the European Patent Office using the European Patent Convention might be your preferred choice. With a single application, you can later validate your patent in all EPO member states where the convention is valid.
If you only want to file in your home country and Germany, then a Paris Convention application might be the best fit. After you filed an application in your home country you have 12 months to file an application in other countries claiming the priority of the original application.
Patent Application and Translation to German
No matter which route you choose the first step will be to file a patent application or a request for entry into the national phase. For a Paris Convention filing and a PCT entry into the German national phase, you will require a translation into German. In case of a Paris Convention application, the German translation can be filed within 3 months of the filing date (12 months if the applications in English or French), in case of a PCT application the translation cannot be filed late. For a European patent application, you do not need a translation at the application stage when your application is in either English, German or French. Otherwise, you have two months after filing the application to file a translation in either of the 3 languages.
Filing a Request for Examination
After the application was filed you will have to file a request for examination in order to start the substantive examination of the patent application. For a Paris Convention application, the deadline is 7 years from the original filing date, for a PCT application that entered the German national phase the deadline is 7 years from the international filing date.
For an application with the European patent office, the deadline is calculated slightly different. Once you filed your application the EPO will start a search for relevant prior art. After the search, they will issue a search report together with their opinion on the patentability. Once the report is published you have a time frame of 6 months to file a request for examination.
If no request is filed, the application will be deemed withdrawn.
Grant and Validation in Germany
If no reasons for refusal were found your patent will be granted. For a direct filing and PCT filing, there are no additional steps after grant. A letters patent will be issued, and the patent will be published in the German Patent Gazette. With a European patent, there is an additional step of validation after the patent has been deemed patentable by the EPO.
The patent has to be validated in all countries of the member states where you are looking for patent protection. For certain countries additional translation have to be filed at this stage. For some countries that have signed the London Agreement no additional translations need to be filed so any European patent is automatically considered valid in these countries. Germany is one of them. However, it is still recommended to register a local service address for each territory of interest to take care of correspondence with the local patent office
In case an examiner finds reasons to refuse your application, these will be notified in a written notification and you will have the chance to appeal the refusal.