Our protection rights services are rounded out by our activities in the fields of "plant variety protection" and "semi-conductor protection". In the more recent past, our work has also started to focus on the new and interesting field of "cyber-law". In addition, the advocates and consultants involved in all areas of commercial protection and copyright need to keep abreast of regulations relating to competition law due to the numerous overlaps between these fields. And finally, we can also look to our extensive experience in handling issues of licensing and the law relating to employee inventions.
This special protection right enables those who cultivate or discover new plant varieties to have it and its designation legally protected. The holder of that protection right is exclusively authorized to produce and sell any reproductive material, i.e. seeds or cuttings, of the protected plant on a commercial basis. The plant variety must be new, sufficiently homogeneous, invariable and distinguishable. As a further requirement, it must have a designation that can be registered. Plant varieties already listed in the Register of Variety Protection Law are excluded from protection. The Federal Office of Plant Varieties in Hanover is in charge of these applications. Plants and seeds have to be enclosed with the application, as the prerequisites for protection are examined by growing the plants. Plant variety protection can usually be maintained for up to 25 years, or up to 30 years in exceptional circumstances. The protection of plant varieties is established on the basis of national regulations as well as common regulations effective within all EU countries.
Semi-conductor protection, also known as topography protection, provides for the protection of the surface structure of microchips, known as the 'maskwork', against imitation or exploitation by third parties. Protection can be provided for three-dimensional structures of microelectronic semi-conductor products (topographies), insofar as they exhibit a distinctive feature. This is usually assumed if the creation can be considered an achievement of one's own and not the ordinary result of one's intellectual work. Applications are filed with to the German Patent and Trademark Office. However, no examination as to novelty is effected. Semi-conductor protection can be maintained for up to 10 years.
The term "Cyber law" covers all legal aspects and problems that can result from the operation and use of computer networks such as the Internet. This includes problems concerning data protection, e-commerce and the responsibility for punishable offences. As a patent and trademark law firm working within the field of intellectual property law, our primary focus is on copyright and trademark conflicts as well as on issues of unfair competition. In recent years, legal issues surrounding Internet domain names have become increasingly relevant, which should not be underestimated. These domains have increasingly become a new kind of commercial designation, and therefore represent an important area of work for our firm.
In contrast to copyright and the special protection rights, competition law is not generally designed to grant a certain position of exclusivity to the individual market participant. Rather, it aims to address to the need for fairness and equal opportunities among competitors within a market. It also serves the interests of consumers. The particular importance of competition law always arises once it offers additional protection in the fields of commercial protection rights and copyright. Owners of vested rights that merit protection may then be able to make use of individual defence rights resulting from competition law.
In practice, licensing covers preparation and negotiation of license agreements, if necessary, with a team of technical experts and contract advisors. Our attorneys understand licensing as a permanent and integral part of counselling clients in the field of intellectual property. The drafting of license contracts in regard to patent, trademark, design and copyright matters is a key element of our everyday professional responsibilities.
Employee inventions deserve special consideration in order to secure fair dealings both for the employee and the employer. We offer advice on handling all matters relating to inventions in a company, starting from the act of claiming the rights to the invention right up to calculating and fixing the amount of compensation to the inventor. We represent our clients in proceedings before the relevant board of arbitration and before the courts.