Historical facts about the German Patent and Trademark Office

Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt (Link zur Startseite) Historic picture of main entrance of the Imperial Patent Office

Source: GPTO Website – picture of logo of the GPTO and the Imperial Patent Office

As you may know, the headquarter of the German Patent and Trademark Office (GPTO) is located in Munich, Germany. However, this has only been the case since 1949. The history of the GPTO already began in 1877 in Berlin.

I. The Office

The very first German patent authority was located in Berlin and started operating under the name “Imperial Patent Office” in 1877. Already one day later, when the ceremonial opening had not even taken place yet, the first German patent was granted for a “production process for a red ultramarine color”, which was invented by Johann Zeltner of the “Nürnberger Ultramarin-Fabrik”. Until 1894, it was only possible to apply for figurative marks at the competent local courts. However, after the act on the Protection of Trademarks of 1894, the GPTO received responsibility for trademarks. The Act also led to the possibility to apply for words, letters, numbers, colors, holograms, multimedia signs and sounds. The first word mark application was in 1894 by the metal goods entrepreneur Carl Holty and was the trademark “Perkeo”, which was registered for lamps and lamp parts. Because of the Second World War, the GPTO had to cease its business, until 1949, when the German Patent Office was set up in Munich. In 1998, the office ´s name was turned into “German Patent and Trade Mark Office” to underline the increasing significance of trademarks as a part of the work of the GPTO. Today, there are three offices: the headquarter in Munich and the sub-offices in Jena and Berlin.

II. Further interesting facts about the GPTO

  • The GPTO is the largest national IP office in Europe and the fifth largest national patent office in the world
  • The majority of the staff is located in Munich with approximately 2,200 employees
  • In 2021, there were 58,568 patent applications at the GPTO
  • There are more than 845,000 registered trademarks and 290,000 registered designs, which are managed at the sub-office in Jena
  • Since 2013, there is the possibility of filing a trademark application online, which still causes an ongoing boom of trademark applications

IV. Outlook

In 2027, the GPTO will celebrate its 150th birthday, which is a huge milestone in the history of the GPTO.

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