Patent law in Germany is being comprehensively reformed.

The Bundestag passed the corresponding amendment to the law on Friday night.

This is to protect companies from the misuse of patents.

In the past few years, such abuse was mainly accused of patent exploiters who hold property rights without manufacturing products themselves.

Corinna Budras

Business correspondent in Berlin.

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    In some cases, especially in the automotive industry, they had collected millions for companies to use their inventions in the increasingly complex production processes. Even if these components made up only a small part of the product, they could negotiate high compensation payments.

    The core of the reform is therefore the injunction that patent owners can assert if a group infringes their property rights.

    This will be limited in the future.

    Courts can now decide in individual cases whether it is proportionate that the holder of a patent wants to enforce a claim for injunctive relief - or whether the manufacturer of the goods complained about is threatened with disproportionate hardship due to the impending production stop.

    This should also play a role if the rights of third parties are impaired.

    This could play a role in the telecommunications sector, for example, when a dispute over patents paralyzes the cellular network of an entire city.

    A lot of praise, a lot of criticism 

    The reactions in the economy to the reform were very different, after all, the industries also have their own view of the benefits of these property rights. They give the right holder a monopoly on the use of the invention for a period of twenty years; he can allow it against payment of license fees or even refuse it altogether, at least if it is not a question of essential inventions.

    The "IP2Innovate" initiative, which is supported by Adidas, BMW, Daimler, Deutsche Telekom and SAP, among others, praised the reform: "German patent law has finally arrived in the 21st century." Find patent protection and innovation funding. The Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) was also relieved about the outcome of the legislative process. "The abuse of patent law has increased sharply in the past few years, and spectacular injunction proceedings have been carried out against the industry," said VDA President Hildegard Müller. "That led to high costs that unnecessarily burdened the company."

    The Greens, on the other hand, criticized the fact that large corporations in particular benefit from the reform. They accused the government of "messing around" with the auto industry. Small, innovative companies would have to suffer as a result. The Association of Researching Pharmaceutical Manufacturers was also negative. Every weakening of the patent protection is a weakening of industrial innovations, said association president Han Steutel of the German press agency.