The Federal Patent Court was established on 1 July 1961. It currently has 118 judges who sit on 29 panels (referred to as boards), making it one of the largest federal courts. In organisational terms, the Court is part of the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Justice.
The Federal Patent Court is one of the highest federal courts, and has jurisdiction over cases involving the grant, denial or withdrawal of industrial property rights. The Court rules as a court of first instance in actions for the declaration of patent nullity. As a court of second instance it has jurisdiction over appeals against the decisions of the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) in cases involving patents, trade marks, utility models and designs, as well as against decisions by the boards of appeal of the Federal Office of Plant Varieties regarding plant variety rights. The Federal Patent Court does not however have jurisdiction over disputes on account of infringements of industrial property rights, for which jurisdiction lies with the civil courts.