Enforcing IP rights

Stay active

Applying for and enforcing IP rights requires commitment and initiative. The DPMA is your partner when it comes to granting patents and registering trade marks, utility models and designs. We provide you with detailed information to give you helpful guidance. However, we are not allowed to give you legal advice. Lawyers specialising in IP protection can help here.

In addition: Stay active! Seize every opportunity to obtain additional information - for example, by reading case studies. Pay attention to how you act at trade fairs. "Care for" your IP right and make sure that you enforce it - regardless of whether it could be challenged or not.

EUIPO study on intellectual property: How EU citizens perceive IP rights

On the occasion of World Anti-Counterfeiting Day in June, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has published a recent report entitled "European Citizens and Intellectual Property: Perception, Awareness and Behaviour – 2023". The report is based on 25,824 interviews with residents aged 15 years and over from all EU member states.

The report repeatedly emphasises the importance of the IP offices: A vast majority of Europeans agree that it is important to respect intellectual property in order to protect both the rights and revenues of producers of goods and content and the quality of their products. At the same time, the report also reveals that awareness-raising measures are of great importance in the fight against piracy: 13% of Europeans report having intentionally bought counterfeits in the past twelve months. This figure is higher than in previous EUIPO studies. At 26%, the likelihood that those aged 15 to 24 have intentionally bought counterfeit products in the past twelve months is twice the EU average. As regards the intentional use of illegal sources to access online content, the figure is even 33%.

This gives reason to repeatedly draw attention to the fact that the protection of IP rights is still the best way to fight counterfeiting and piracy. One thing has not changed: You cannot enforce rights you have not applied for. Whether for your online business or at trade fairs: You can take action against infringers only if you have applied for IP rights in time.

For detailed information on the report and on other studies regarding this topic, please visit the externer Link "IP Perception" section on the EUIPO website.

Case Studies

Life teaches you the best lessons: Case studies offer you insights, ideas, suggestions and practical solutions for dealing with IP from a large number of companies and industries. Learn from others how to use IP for your own benefit.

  • European Patent Office:
    • externer Link SME case studies: The EPO has produced a series of case studies on European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which are leveraging the power of patents and other IP rights to achieve business success.

  • Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI Switzerland) :
    • externer Link "SMEs report": Entrepreneurs tell about their own brand strategy experiences.

How to act at trade fairs?

The issue of "enforcement of intellectual property rights" is particularly relevant at trade fairs. Some counterfeiters are good at reproducing successful products almost immediately. It even happens that the counterfeiters act faster than the very company that has made the creation, having this company’s creation registered under a different name even during the fair.

Below you will find recommendations on how to minimise this risk if you want to present new products at a trade fair.

Before the trade fair:

  • Make sure that you do not infringe any IP rights in the respective country.
  • Make sure that you have protection in the country where the trade fair takes place (e.g. copyright, unregistered Community design, registered IP rights).
  • If your creation can be protected by copyright in the country where the trade fair takes place, make sure that you can provide proof of the date of creation or the date of publication.
  • Your trade fair staff should know your company's IP rights and be instructed in how to act in the right way.
  • The procedures should be clearly defined. Who is responsible if an IP right is being infringed or if the company is accused of infringing an IP right? How can this person be contacted?
  • Take copies of the IP documents with the register numbers of the registered IP rights with you to the trade fair.
  • Please take exhibition priority into consideration. Exhibiting your technical solution or your design at a trade fair without exhibition priority can jeopardise the criterion of novelty and make a subsequent registration invalid. Find out if there is another way to protect your creation at a fair before and/or after it is exhibited.
  • Keep in mind that business contracts might have to be adjusted to prevent your creation from being published without your consent. The relationship with your business partners should be defined by a contract or non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with specific clauses on intellectual property rights.
  • Check whether an application for action by the customs authorities (referred to as border seizure) is an option for you. This allows you to prevent that the counterfeit products and goods produced without authorisation will be exhibited at trade fairs. Prior to the trade fair, the customs authorities can check goods imported from third countries to be exhibited at the trade fair for potential infringement of IP rights.

During the trade fair:

  • New products from competitors often appear for the first time at trade fairs. Be attentive and check carefully whether there is an IP infringement.
  • If you discover an IP infringement during the trade fair, act quickly and contact your lawyer. At some trade fairs there is also a legal emergency service. To enforce your rights, you can take steps against the alleged infringer under civil and criminal law.
  • If you suspect an IP infringement, attempt to secure evidence such as stand number, date, time, brochures, product samples, photos or business cards.
  • Do not carelessly divulge too much information about your own inventions.
  • There is a photo ban on most trade fairs. Make sure that this prohibition is observed at the trade fair stand.

How do I obtain my rights? How do I enforce intellectual property rights?

The intelligent protection of your business achievements by means of IP rights is a first step to survive on the market. However, trade marks, designs, patents and utility models are registered not only to document intellectual property, but also to protect and exploit it.

Read what you can do to enforce your IP rights on our subpages

Picture 1:, Picture

Last updated: 22 June 2023