Contrary to the online resources available at the EPO, until today files at the GPTO could only be manually inspected by either personally inspecting the files at the premises of the GPTO or by ordering copies.
The president of the GPTO has now announced that the inspection of patent and utility model files are possible as of January 7, 2014. The electronic inspection of files will be a free service of the GPTO.
However, this does by no means indicate that all files of all existing German utility models and patent applications and patents will be immediately available.
Rather, the availability is limited to the following files:
All patent applications and utility model applications for which a request for file inspection was submitted on or after January 21, 2013,
All granted patents and registered utility models published since January 21, 2013, and
All patent applications filed with the GPTO on or after January 21, 2013 that have already been published.
As to patents, also the details of any opposition proceeding will be available. As to utility models, the details of cancellation actions at the GPTO will be available.
However, contrary to the EPO, where also the complete details of appeal proceedings are available online, currently the appeal files of the German Federal Patent Court (BPatG) in Munich will not be available for online file inspection.
Furthermore, also the details of nullity actions filed at the German Federal Patent Court will not be available for online inspection.