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Aeronautical and aviation developments in the regions that were in Germany then or now are linked to this summary page. The abbreviation DE across the wiki refers to Deutschland (Germany).

Overall patent historical context

Until 1919 the German patent office was known as the Kaiserlichen Patentamt (and thereafter Reichspatentamt). Today patents are registered at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office, called in German the Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt; abbreviated as DPMA.

Below patents, there was and is another tier of intellectual property protection called Gebrauchsmusterschutz; Gebrauchsmuster are lighter-weight alternatives to patents that give shorter-term protection and aren't evaluated as stringently by patent examiners. (An English patent expert called them "Protection of Useful Designs".)[1]

Foreigners submitting patents in Germany were required to use a patent agent.[1] The names of the agents do not appear on the copies of patents scanned to DPMA and elsewhere, however they do appear in the patent lists of some publications, which are starting to incorporate and cross-reference with DPMA. See Category:German patent agents for the growing list of these.

To receive a patent, an invention had to be new, defined as never before used in the German empire or explicitly described by publication. The submitter of a patent did not have to prove that he had invented the concept (though a patent would be disqualified if the idea was demonstrably stolen from the true inventor.)[1]

Patentees had the sole right to make, use, and sell their inventions. Infringement could be punishable by a fine worth ~£250 or imprisonment for up to one year.[1]

Key sources for finding German patents

Journals about ballooning, aeronautics, and aviation published in Germany included:

Auszüge aus den Patentschriften is a general publication of the German patent office, with summaries of patents granted, sorted by classification; DE 77h and its evolving subcategories is the main classification for aeronautics and aviation.

German states

Progress is being made regarding the legal and other roles played by Germany's precursor states, as pertinent to patents and otherwise, throughout the periods of early aeronautics, during which Germany, along with a few other nations, was undergoing extensive change, change particularly along the lines of unification. (See: Prussia, Bavaria, Württemberg ...)


Over the 19th century, inventions which were patented or exhibited were more and more likely to be affiliated with universities or cities with universities (Dittmar and Meizenzahl, ASSA 2022, [1]).

Note on coverage

When a list of Klasse 77h patents numbered 124967–135262 (filed roughly in years 1898–1902)[2] was found in May 2023, a check of each number on the list found all but one[3] already in this database. This success rate of 23/24 or 96% is a very encouraging sign regarding our coverage at the turn of the century. We expect that the period 1913–1920 needs more work, as the availability of reference materials for this period is poorer, and the overall pool of patents much larger. There were also greater delays and more irregularities during the wartime period which made and make indexing more difficult.

Sources for patents from this period include Zeitschrift für Flugtechnik und Motorluftschiffahrt, Der Motorwagen, and Auszüge aus den Patentschriften. We are now incorporating patent citations from these sources, particularly the first, which was published by the authoritative Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft für Luftfahrt.

Patent dates

See also Patent dates.

Thompson writes: "German patents are published often immediately after application".[1] Therefore it would seem that we cannot exactly equate the date 'Ausgegeben' with the 'date published' except insofar as the latter applies a final approval of the patent. (Though we also know a patent can be ausgegeben then gelöscht.)

  • Patent DE-1898-116287 may serve as a clarifying example. On the scan at DPMA we see it was "Ausgegeben den 8. Januar 1901"; but it is also included in the Verzeichnis der von dem Kaiserlichen Patentamt im Jahre 1900 ertheilten Patente[4] suggesting that the Erteilung (issuing, bestowal, i.e. granting) actually occurred in the year 1900, before New Year's. Neither of these documents gives us a precise date for this event.

At least one issue of IAM published a list of several aero patents "Zur öffentlichen Auslegung"—i.e. open to public inspection—over a short period of time.[5] The patents in this list have four-and-five digit numbers preceded by a letter, but not, it would seem, the serial numbers eventually given to published patents. For each patent there is a date submitted (angemeldet) and a date ausgelegt, often with a delay of several months. The presentation of this list makes it seem as though auslegen would be an intermediate phase before ausgegeben. However it is curious that IAM did not publish the same type of list regularly along with patents .This question deserves further investigation.

  • Additional note: In at least one place,[6] ausgelegte patents are separated from erteilte patents, the latter term actually and properly meaning granted/issued.[7] The list in question does not include dates granted or a range for dates granted, though it does include filing dates. The designation further confirms that there is some imperfection in the how German data fit into the present template, as the date ausgelegt cannot be considered the date granted or published, as these concepts work in the French system. If either it is closest to being a date "published" which precedes the date "granted".


Patents within our data

This wiki has 1,164 German patents and 1,945 patents filed by Germans.

Patents filed in Germany


Patents filed by Germans