The German Patent System - Why Litigate IP in Germany?


Here is a fact: 2 out of 3 of European patent cases are tried in the German court system. German courts have gained an excellent reputation in IP litigation for delivering quicker and less costly decisions. The average time to reach a decision varies between 9 and 14 months, and depending on whether the case advances into nullity proceedings it may take up to 2 years.

Infringement cases in general - not only patent-related - are less costly in Germany than in e.g. the US or the UK. In Germany, the costs of a court case are usually assigned to the losing party (both court and attorney fees). These costs are connected directly to the value of the dispute and are therefore easily determined.

There is very little pre-trial discovery mandated in Germany. Discovery as known in the US legal system is actually forbidden in Germany. As a result, attorney hours are not spent sifting through piles of potential evidence. Furthermore, oral hearings are kept to a day on average, lasting between 2-4 hours.

Another effective tool for plaintiffs is the preliminary injunction. Such preliminary proceedings for asserting claims for injunctive relief are also available in patent cases, although are used more widely in trademark disputes. Our attorneys cooperate with German authorities in relation to border seizures and are able to obtain samples of infringing products, often within 24 hours.

Finally, the decisions of the first-instance Regional Courts are enforceable upon provision of securities (bonds). The decisions of the second-instance Higher Regional Courts are enforceable without posting such security.

Summary of advantages:

  • Excellent reputation of the German courts
  • Quick and enforceable decisions
  • Considerably reduced costs
  • No drawn-out discovery procedure