By Klaus Hübscher, Head of Technical PR, Wilo SE

Patents can result in a considerable amount of expense, however, they do give companies the possibility to make their solutions exclusive and to secure them at an international level. Patents rank as the most expensive property rights and have a maximum service life of 20 years, plus the possibility of a so-called ‘priority year’. Alexander Leisten, Group Head Intellectual Property with Wilo SE, a German manufacturer of pumps and pumping systems, describes the method by which a patent is acquired. “We can apply approximately 20 patents per year”, says Leisten. “The first application normally takes place in Germany and from then we have twelve months, our priority year, to claim the property rights in other countries. As a producer of pumps we do the most patent applications in France, Italy and England, as well as Germany. “These are the most important markets for us and our competitors. In this way, the main markets are isolated from each other”.

Examined – accorded – published
A patent is a certified right – that means that your idea is completely new, inventive and confirmed by the patent
office. The patent serves as a means of protecting the company’s innovative and developmental performance. “Before you apply an idea it has to meet certain criteria. One aspect is the counterfeiting evidence of a third-party product. It has to be a right that is easy to communicate”, summarizes the team leader. “If the evidence is difficult to provide, the practical applicability of the patent law will be dropped.” In the run-up to shows the number of audits concerning prohibited patent and design infringements of third-party products increases. In relation to this, Leisten refers to the use of design laws: “This is a good way of protecting yourself against the appropriation of the company’s design language. It is a basic form of protection. Essentially, it protects every design that has a new language. In the event of an infringement, the requirements of the design law are considered separately”.

Active action against counterfeiters
The process of putting up a fight against counterfeiters has to be constantly pursued. One method a company can use to protect its product is the training of customs personnel. If customs personnel can recognize the authenticity of your product, it will be easier to detect a counterfeit. They should know the obvious features of your product; color, shape or well-known reference points. Recently, the efficiency of this process has been proven: “We were contacted by the customs department of an Eastern European country, as they had discovered a huge amount of counterfeit products”, explains Leisten. “Fortunately, in this instance, the customs officers checked the authenticity of the products.” On this specific occasion, exposing the counterfeit products was exceptionally easy, as the company name on the packaging was written incorrectly. Therefore, the company, as potential rights holder, was informed about the discovery and asked to give evidence. The importer also had the chance to give a statement. “We then had to decide what would happen with the counterfeit products”, says Leisten. “The decision deadlines are often very short and normally we would make an application for the products to be destroyed”. Most of the time, the importer will voluntarily agree to absorb
all the costs for these proceedings.

To read the full article please contact the editor, Deirdre Morgan.

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