Dipl.-Phys. Dr. Stefan Gehrsitz, Patentanwalt, European Patent Attorney. Foto: CHARRIER RAPP & LIEBAU

by Dipl.-Phys. Dr. Stefan Gehrsitz

Patent attorney Dr. Stefan Gehrsitz, Charrier Rapp & Liebau

Property rights: “Can working time models be protected?”

B4B readers ask, our industry experts from the region answer: “Can working time models that we have developed for the benefit of our employer attractiveness and want to specifically advertise be protected – even if only with our own name?” Our expert Dr. Stefan Gehrsitz, patent attorney at CHARRIER RAPP & LIEBAU, knows the answer.

A working time model is a non-technical business model which, due to its lack of technicality, is not eligible for patent or utility model protection. Design protection is also out of the question, because only products that can be manufactured by hand or industrially can be protected as designs.

Protecting a working time model as a trademark

The name of a working time model can be protected as a trademark – provided that it is not merely a descriptive indication. It may be questionable for which products, i.e. for which goods or services, trademark protection is to be obtained. In principle, trademarks can be protected for goods and services that are offered on the market and purchased or used by third parties. A working time model that is used in a company’s own operations is therefore not a good or service that is acquired from or used by a third party.

If, for example, the working time model is developed by an agency for its customers and used by the customers, trademark protection in favor of the agency comes into consideration, for example for human resources services. However, the trademark protection acquired by the agency cannot be enforced against companies that use the name of the working time model to designate it, but do not use the agency’s services in doing so.

In such a case, the use of the name of the working time model is merely an internal company designation which is not used in the course of business in a trademark-like manner for the offering and marketing of goods or services. For this reason, trademark protection is likely to be of little importance to the agency.

Do you have any questions for patent attorney Dr. Stefan Gehrsitz, or would you like more in-depth advice?

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