The German Trademark and Patent Office (DPMA) – the largest national IP office in Europe and the fifth-largest national patent office in the world, with a staff of more than 2,500 – has announced that from 7th January 2014 it is offering a new service allowing the electronic inspection of German patent and utility model files.

The new service completes the electronic system which was introduced in 2012 and allows applicants to view at least parts of files online. However, at first only patents, registered utility models and applications published on or after 21st January 2013 will be available for online inspection.

The documents available for electronic inspection include office actions, decisions and search reports, as well as communications relevant to the procedure and other parts of files in PDF format. The information can be accessed free of charge by entering the file number and clicking on the "File inspection" button in the DPMA register.

"With electronic file inspection, we are offering our customers an innovative service that will greatly facilitate their work," said Cornelia Rudloff-Schäffer, president of the DPMA. "We are thereby directly passing on the advantages of the electronic keeping of files for patent and utility model applications introduced in 2011 and significantly reducing the administrative effort."

Consequently, it is no longer necessary to file a written file inspection request asking for a copy of a file extract, although this remains an option. In addition, it is still possible to inspect files in the public search rooms at the DPMA's branches in Munich, Jena and Berlin. Obviously, information that is protected by copyright or data protection law will remain excluded from file inspection.

The online file inspection is offered by the DPMA free of charge and detailed information is available here.

Rainer K Kuhnen

This article first appeared in IAM magazine. For further information please visit www.iam-magazine.com