On 1 October 1966, patent attorney Günther Eisenführ founds his patent law firm. Driven by a spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation, the start-up included a small team of assistants and had premises in ‘Trinidad House’, in Bremen’s Bürgermeister Smidt Strasse. Dieter Speiser joined the firm three months later and became a Partner in July 1967. A success story began to take its course.
The partners had a great deal in common with regard to personal standards of legal work and internal collaboration, and this shared vision quickly led to the formation of the Eisenführ & Speiser law firm. Above all, Eisenführ and Speiser shared an ability to focus their legal guidance on the client’s perspective and in general to view matters from the angle of those they were facing – be it the client, an opponent, an examiner or a judge.
The commitment and dedication shown by the partners, both as patent attorneys and as businessmen, has impacts. Another factor behind the firm’s success is the continuous development of expertise and know-how among the staff. The creation of innovative workflows within the office allows workloads to be managed with a high level of quality and efficiency. Following numerous innovations relating to office equipment and organisation, 1978 sees the introduction of an advanced ‘Redactron’ word processing system made by the Burroughs Corporation.
The firm continues to expand and is superbly positioned on the market, Eisenführ Speiser moves into a new office suite in Martinistrasse, in Bremen’s city centre. Over the years, the area of premises used grows from half of one storey to four storeys in all – until the next move is due.
The constant growth in files, month by month, inspires the firm to innovate further. Investments continue to be made in state-of-the-art hardware in the form of new word processing and computing systems from the company Wang, comprising a mainframe computer and several workstations – what in those days was known as ‘medium-scale computing’. But what about software? Eisenführ Speiser delegates the development of its proprietary computer programs to Brügmann Software, a young software engineering company. Close collaboration with Jochen Brügmann and his team culminates in ‘PatOrg’, Germany’s leading patent management system for patent attorneys and companies.
Cause to celebrate – the firm celebrates its growth in the ‘Club zu Bremen’, in surrounding steeped in tradition.
Eisenführ Speiser opens an office in the same city as the German Patent and Trademark Office, the Federal Patent Court and the European Patent Office. The plan works: within a couple of years, the number of clients supported by the Munich office increases rapidly, as does the number of attorneys and employees.
Cutting-edge technology for a spectacular fairground ride. Eisenführ Speiser obtains patent protection for the ‘Looping the loop swing with parallel rows of seats’ and trademark protection for ‘Top Spin’.
In recognition of his engagement and his role in developing the European patent system, Dieter Speiser (r.) is awarded the German Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon. The award ceremony is conducted by Bremen’s Senator for Justice, Dr Henning Scherf, in the historic Town Hall.
Just a few years after German unification, Eisenführ Speiser opens an office in Berlin. From there, the firm provides IP guidance to innovative companies in and around the capital, as well as to numerous research institutes, not only in eastern Germany.
Aurich-based Enercon GmbH is Germany’s biggest manufacturer of wind turbines. All the wind turbines share a common design that blends as smoothly as possible into the surrounding landscape. Besides the design of the nacelle and the special rotor blades, it is above all the rings in gradations of green at the base of the tower (photo) that provide a distinctive indication of the manufacturer. This 3D trademark was registered in 1997 and has been successfully maintained to this day. Eisenführ Speiser has advised Enercon GmbH since the mid-1990s in design, trademark and patent matters and represents it in various legal disputes worldwide.
It began with one patent attorney and two staff members on Hamburg’s Ballindamm (photo) and quickly grew over the years that followed to become the second-largest office in the Eisenführ Speiser firm.
Those congratulating Günther Eisenführ (l.) on his 65th birthday included not only the Mayor of Bremen at that time, Henning Scherf (r.). Numerous guests from politics and the business community, as well as long-serving companions and employees, gathered at a reception in the Bremen Chamber of Commerce.
The endeavours of Eisenführ Speiser over many years to computerise the filing of patent applications at the European Patent Office finally bear fruit. On 8 December 2000, of behalf of his client, HAUNI Maschinenbau GmbH, Dieter Speiser files the first online application with the historical application number EP00000001.8 (Method and apparatus for automatically opening and emptying closed cartons for rod-like articles from the tobacco processing industry).
‘A must-have for Community trade mark attorneys’ – in 2003, the Carl Heymanns publishing house releases the commentary by Eisenführ and Schennen on the Community Trade Mark Regulation (meanwhile EU Trade Mark Regulation) – at that time a relatively new recent piece of legislation. The work has since been revised and updated on a regular basis. The fifth edition has already been published. In addition to Günther Eisenführ, a number of other attorneys from Eisenführ Speiser have been involved as authors in the commentary.
Is Plattdeutsch (a Low German dialect) an admissible language for patent and utility model applications? A utility model application for ‘Läägeünnerloagen för dat Veih’ (cow mats) was finally accepted by the Federal Court of Justice in 2003, after being submitted in Plattdeutsch and initially rejected by the German Patent and Trademark Office (GPTO) due to Plattdeutsch being used as the language of application. Since then, applications may be filed ‘op platt’ – but require a subsequent translation into High German.
The global reputation and high quality of innovative Sennheiser products is routinely on view at Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, etc. award ceremonies. Eisenführ Speiser has achieved some much-acclaimed successes for that family-owned company from Lower Saxony – for example in 2006, in a dispute with the Tchibo, a trading company based in Hamburg. The latter had offered headphones for sale that looked confusingly similar to the original Sennheiser PX100 model (see photo) and which also had an identical folding mechanism. Tchibo had to withdraw the headphones from sale.
The “summer fairy tale” ahead means extra efforts at Eisenführ Speiser, too, but not so much in the physical sense. Two business protagonists at the football world championships become embroiled in patent litigation over ventilated footgear. Eisenführ Speiser successfully defends Nike against a patent infringement suit filed by Adidas. The path to success involves three court instances in a legal battle over the validity of the adidas patent sued upon and does not end until eight years later, when the patent is revoked.
A milestone in the case law on the interrelationship between patent law and antitrust law: Koninklijke Philips N.V. had been litigating against a number of companies since as early as 2001 in connection with licences to Philips’ technology for writing CDs, which is part of the ‘Orange Book’ standard for CDs. The defendants had been selling CDs conforming to the ‘Orange Book standard’, but without a licence to do so. The companies were successfully sued for patent infringement until final judgments were obtained. Eisenführ Speiser represented the successful plaintiff. The Federal Court of Justice judgement can be found here (only available in German). The decision was the basis for a meanwhile established jurisdiction to antitrust objection of compulsory license at the European level.
The increasing need for more space compels the firm to move yet again. The new location of our Bremen office is the redesigned and redeveloped ‘Rösterei’ building in Bremen’s Überseestadt. The premises cover 3,500 square metres, are spread over three storeys and are structured to match the requirements of modern-day workflows. Today, 17 attorneys and more than 100 staff work at the Bremer headquarters of Eisenführ Speiser.
Twenty years after reunification, the Federal Court of Justice ruled in two similar patent revocation cases that business patents from the GDR shall also qualify as granted patented whose extent of protection may not be broadened after being granted. The background was that the 1990 Unification Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) allowed proprietors of GDR commercial patents to have their patents checked by the German Patent and Trademark Office. When examiners treated them as patent applications rather than as patents, this ultimately led to impermissible broadening of the extent of protection conferred by commercial patents granted in the GDR.
Once again, a system developed by Eisenführ Speiser proves to be a trailblazing innovation in office technology – after about six years of intensive development in collaboration with our partners, Brügmann Software GmbH and d.velop digital solutions GmbH, Eisenführ Speiser is one of the first German IP firms to work with electronic office processes and electronic file management. Clients and employees profit equally from the speed, flexibility and reliability of the new system.
An article by Eisenführ Speiser entitled ‘Bald glüht der Grabbeltisch’ appears in the German edition of ‘Rolling Stone’, the music magazine. The article discusses the expiry of copyright on music recordings after 50 years. Subscribers to the magazine can find the full article here. The attorneys at Eisenführ Speiser offer their services as guest authors, interview partners and specialists for ‘Intellectual Property’ to appropriate media outlets. Feel free to contact us!
Not only in Bremen, but all over the world, people know that rubbing the donkey’s golden foot on the statue of the Bremen Town Musicians brings good fortune. Our client, an inventor who studied in Bremen and is now living in the USA, requested us to perform precisely that ritual – before proceedings at the European Patent Office, after the patent examination procedure until then had not led to the desired success. And lo and behold: the patent was eventually granted after oral proceedings lasting several hours. The patent in question is now considered to be one of ‘the’ basic patents for digital maps. We should note, however, that patent attorneys at Eisenführ Speiser also achieve grants of patents using conventional methods, too ...
This commentary on the European Patent Convention (EPC) was written by a team of leading specialists in the field – once again with attorneys at Eisenführ Speiser being involved. Shortly after it was first published, the commentary was referred to as the ‘absolute standard reference book for every practitioner in the field of international and European patent law’.
Eisenführ Speiser has been committed to the training of patent paralegals for many years. In 2012, we can celebrate another notable success: one of our trainees in Munich passes the final examination for patent paralegals as the Best Trainee in Germany. Trainees at Eisenführ Speiser are continually among the best examinees, scoring top marks at both national and regional level.
Patent paralegals pursue a challenging and wide-ranging occupation that is little known in Germany; demand for such specialists greatly exceeds the available supply. Each year, Eisenführ Speiser trains ongoing patent paralegals at all its offices. For current vacancies, click here.
In 2013, attorneys at Eisenführ Speiser publish the first issue of their ‘Recent Case Law in German Patent Law’. In the periodical, the authors discuss important judgments by German courts in patent cases and provide interested readers with an overview of contentious issues and developments in case law. Since then, Eisenführ Speiser has published the review on an annual basis. The current issue can be found here.
Since 2014, the attorneys on our ‘Chemistry and Life Sciences’ team have been monitoring the development of a ground-breaking biochemical technology. ‘CRISPR’ is a new method in molecular biology for cutting and subsequently altering DNA molecules at a specific location. The technique provides novel opportunities not only in the fight against Aids, cancer and a number of heriditary diseases – but also in livestock breeding and plant cultivation.
There are only a few law firms with expertise in this technology. Our attorneys are pleased to pass on their in-depth know-how in this and further genome editing-technologies, in the form of guidance and analyses, to clients.
In collaboration with the Noerr law firm and on behalf of its client, SPC Sunflower Plastic Compound GmbH, Eisenführ Speiser was able to successfully complete an 18-month licence negotiation involving one of the biggest privately-owned companies in the USA. About a dozen agreements in total were successfully negotiated, including the establishment of a joint ventures for manufacturing, developing and marketing biopolymers based on sunflower seeds.
In a prominent case concerning alleged trademark infringement and unfair imitation, the Federal Court of Justice ruled that, by selling a chocolate figure in the shape of a bear wrapped in gold foil and with a red ribbon around its neck, Lindt does not infringe Haribo’s ‘Gold Bear’ trademarks, and that the chocolate figure does not constitute an unfair imitation of Haribo’s fruit gum products. Eisenführ Speiser had taken over the conduct of the case at second instance on behalf of Lindt (before the court of appeal in Cologne) and succeeded in having the first-instance judgment against Lindt set aside. The Swiss chocolate company may carry on selling its teddy bears.
The annual JUVE Awards count among the most coveted prizes for legal services in Germany. Eisenführ Speiser is delighted about its nomination as ‘IP firm of the year’ for the second time, following the first in 2005.
In a dispute over a standard-essential patent (SEP), Sisvel, our client of many years’ standing and represented by Eisenführ Speiser, achieved a victory against Haier, the Chinese manufacturer of appliances that sells mobile phones and tablet computers, inter alia. Sisvel had filed an infringement action in respect of two patents relating to the GPRS and UMTS standards and had sued for injunctive relief, information and damages. The Düsseldorf District Court granted the requests in their entirety, even though Haier had invoked a defence of compulsory licensing.
After years of litigation against advertising and distribution of the ‘Wagenfeld lamp’, a work of applied art dating from 1924 and enjoying design protection in Germany, Tecnolumen GmbH & Co. KG, a company manufacturing design objects and represented by Eisenführ Speiser, is finally handed a major victory. The Federal Court of Justice dismisses the appeal on points of law lodged by an Italian online trader that had advertised in German, and with literal and pictorial reference to the Wagenfeld lamp, that it was possible to purchase the lamp in Italy.
A customised patent portfolio analysis was conducted by Eisenführ Speiser for the Bundesdruckerei (Federal Printing Office) using an approach that was individually tailored to the company and in which specific consideration is given to the coverage of marketed product categories by patented technology concepts and to the changes in the innovation levels achieved by different technology concepts.
Intellectual property rights increase the value of a company and facilitate access to capital at lower cost. As one of only a few firms in Germany, Eisenführ Speiser offers detailed IP portfolio analysis and monetary IP valuation – sound, sober, powerful and tailored with versatility to the client’s specific situation.
The attorneys and patent attorneys at Eisenführ Speiser look forward to continuing our working relationship with you and to protecting tomorrow’s new ideas!