German trademark law includes a variety of content as a trademark. In practice, word and figurative marks are the most relevant. However, there are also:
- Three-dimensional marks,
- colour marks,
- sound marks,
- position marks,
- tracer marks,
- pattern marks,
- motion marks,
- multimedia marks,
- hologram marks,
- other trademarks, e.g., those perceived by the sense of touch or smell or mixtures of the above.
Word and figurative marks, or a mixture of word and figurative marks, are most frequently applied for in Germany. A word mark within the meaning of Section 7 MarkenV may be reproduced in usual characters, i.e., letters, numbers or other signs. They are not coloured or graphically designed.
Accordingly, the protection of a word mark comprises only the chosen sequence of characters. Upper- and lower-case letters and common spellings are included. Letters, numbers, and usual symbols (such as “:,+,-,?,!”) count as “signs”. As soon as the trademark to be registered does not only contain usual signs; it is no longer a pure word mark but either a mixed form of word and figurative mark or a figurative mark.
Word marks in which the visual appearance and design of lettering are in the foreground are considered word/figurative marks. Criteria for this are, for example, whether the words are printed in bold or italics and arrangements in several lines or positions. The lettering of a word/figurative mark is also not necessarily protected by copyright, as the visual appearance and design are the protected goods.
As the name suggests, figurative marks are images and elements that do not contain any written elements. The differences between the individual features can be fluid under certain circumstances.