Legal Environment

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In this page: Business Contract | Intellectual Property | Legal Framework of Business | International Dispute Resolution


Business Contract

General Observation
The seller's duty as well as the methods of quality control have to be defined in very precise terms.
Law Applicable to the Contract
For more information refer to the business code.
Advisable Incoterms
It is preferable to choose an incoterm FOB or CIF. Avoid EXW, if you do not want to have to take care of the transport in Germany which can be complicated.
Language of Domestic Contract
Other Laws Which Can Be Used in Domestic Contracts
If German law is not used, the law of the other contracting party must be chosen.

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Intellectual Property

National Organisations
The organisation responsible for the protection of intellectual property in Germany is the Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt (DPMA).
Regional Organisations
For patent protection: The European Patent Office.
Governing trademarks, designs and models: the European Union Intellectual Property Office
International Membership
Member of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
Signatory to the Paris Convention For the Protection of Intellectual Property
Membership to the TRIPS agreement - Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

National Regulation and International Agreements

Type of property and law Validity International Agreements Signed
PatAnwO (Patent Anwalts Ordnung)
Initial 3 year period of validity Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
10 year period of validity Trademark Law Treaty
Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks
Industrial Designs
70 years after the death of the author Berne convention For the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms
Rome ConventionFor the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations
WIPO Copyright Treaty
WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty
Industrial Models
Industrial Designs
25 years  

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Legal Framework of Business

Equity of Judgments

Equal Treatment of Nationals and Foreigners
Germany is a constitutional state. Foreign nationals benefit from the same treatment as that reserved for citizens in legal matters.
The Language of Justice
The legal language is German.
Recourse to an Interpreter
Legal Similarities
The main source of the law is the Constitution of May 1949 known as the Fundamental Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (which has become the constitution of reunified Germany). The country's judicial system is based on a system of civil law joining together historical concepts and judicial revisions of different legislative acts by the Federal Constitutional Court. Germany has not accepted the obligatory jurisdiction of the ICJ. As it is part of the European Union, its national law is bound to submit to the conditions of Community Legislation.

The Different Legal Codes

General Codes Penal Code
Civil Code
Civil procedure Code
Specific codes Commercial Code
Checking National Laws Online
German Law Journal
Other Useful Resources
Ministry of Justice
Legal System
Country Guides
Ministry of Justice (in German)
Lexadin, German Legislation

The Jurisdictions

Federal Constitutional Tribunal (Bundesverfassunsgericht) Constitutional matters
Federal Court (Bundesgerichtshof) Ordinary jurisdiction
Administrative Court Administrative litigation
Ordinary court Civil and criminal matters
Labor tribunal Professional matters
Tax tribunal Tax litigation
European court of Justice European matters

Court Officials

Federal Justice Minister
Head of the Judicial branch of the federal government, appointed by the Chancellor
President of the Federal Constitutional Court
Appointed by the Bundesrat
Public Prosecutor to the Federal Court
Appointed by the Minister of Federal Justice
Minister of Justice of the Lander
Consult the European portal e-justice for more information.
Professional judges preside over the federal or Länder courts.

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International Dispute Resolution

Commercial disputes involving Germany are rare. According to UNCTAD, Germany was challenged three times. If needed, arbitration is a solution for settling disputes. An arbitrator is called in who has to make the final decision.
Arbitration Law
German Arbitration Act
Conformity to International Commercial Arbitration Rules
Party to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Party to the Geneva Protocol on Arbitration Clauses.
Party to the Geneva Convention of the Execution of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Appointment of Arbitrators
The court of arbitration is composed of an odd number of arbitrators (usually three). The arbitrators are chosen by the parties, or the President of the Chamber of arbitration.
Arbitration Procedure
For more information refer to the German Institute of Arbitration.
Permanent Arbitration Bodies
Deutsche Institution für Schiedsgerichtsbarkeit (Sectors Covered: All)

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Latest Update: June 2024