Leading through knowledge
A successful patent application always requires thorough search. Only those who know the state of the art and have an overview of already existing IP rights can judge whether an invention is really patentable.
Tips on online searches
Prior Art Search on the Internet (4,34 MB)
Novelty is a basic requirement for the patentability of an invention. Furthermore, it must involve an inventive step and be susceptible of industrial application. Also with regard to these criteria, a search is useful prior to filing your application.
IP searches can save time, effort and, ultimately, money. You can thus avoid investing effort in inventions or developments already contained in patent literature. Regular searches in the databases keep you from infringing other IP rights.
Search options offered by the DPMA
The German Patent and Trade Mark Office offers different tools and options for searching its databases. Our Customer Care and Services will be glad to give advice at the DPMA locations in Munich, Jena and Berlin.
You can also file a search request pursuant to Section 43 of the Patent Act (Patentgesetz) in relation to your patent application. The DPMA will then assess protectability of your invention filed against payment of a fee and prepare a detailed search report citing the documents which might be of relevance for assessing patentability of your invention.
The patent information centres, which are regional cooperation partners of the DPMA, offer advice and support with searches or perform them against payment. The websites of the EPO and of the WIPO (WIPO) also allow searching for internationally valid IP rights. Please find more detailed information about the databases of the DPMA on the sites of Search.
It is useful (but not necessary) to get familiar with the classification for technical IP rights in order to prepare a patent application.
IPC – classification for technical industrial property rights
The International Patent Classification (IPC) is used to classify the technical contents of patent literature. It organises patent and utility model specifications and allows you to perform language-independent searches of these documents by means of classification symbols. The IPC reflects all fields of technology. It contains more than 70,000 units (main groups and sub-groups), in which the documents are classified.
The IPC has been used for classifying patents and utility models since 1975. More than 100 patent offices around the world use the IPC for classification.
The current and all previous editions/versions of the IPC are available in German, English and French via DEPATISnet including a search function for finding IPC places by means of catchwords. DEPATISnet also provides IPC concordance information, which enables you to compare the changes of different IPC versions. The Help section contains instructions on how to use the IPC index as well as general information about the IPC.
You can use a database search based on classification places to find patent or utility model documents on a certain subject, irrespective of the language and without the need to know the specific document numbers.
Please go here to learn more about the search options offered by the DPMA and about searching the IPC.
Do you have any further questions?
- You can contact the central customer care and services of the DPMA (phone: +49 89 2195-1000).
- The search support database hotline (phone: +49 89 2195-3435) will be pleased to answer your questions on searches.
- Expert staff provide assistance in the search rooms of the DPMA in Munich and Berlin. There, all services offered by the DPMA are available to you.
- The patent information centres (Patentinformationszentren) also provide expert assistance to you.
- Searches are also offered by commercial information brokers and patent search agents which you can find via all major Internet search engines.
- The DPMA also offers workshops and seminars on IP searches and searches. You will find the dates on the events page.
- You can use the new online-assisted search. Here you meet virtually on the Internet with search experts of the DPMA who will support you individually in your search.
Last updated: 5 November 2021