German patent law is mainly governed by the Patents Act (German: Patentgesetz) and the European Patent Convention. A patent covering Germany can be obtained through four different routes: through the direct filing of a national patent application with the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (German: Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt) (direct national route), through the filing of a European patent application (European route), or through the filing of an international application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty followed by the entry into either the European phase or the national (German) phase of said international application (Euro-PCT route). The German patent has a term of 20 years.
The German patent litigation system is one of the few patent systems in which the issue of patent infringement and of patent validity are dealt with by different courts. The district courts deal with infringement, whereas the Federal Patent Court (German: Bundespatentgericht) is in charge of deciding the validity of patents. Such a system is sometimes dubbed a "bifurcation system."