Utility Model Law
A utility model is often referred to as a "petty" patent, as it is an intellectual property right for technical inventions and exists in some countries alongside the patent. The designation "petty" patent refers to formal differences in obtaining utility model protection. A utility model is examined in most countries only for formal requirements and is simply registered after application, in contrast to a patent, whose potential scope of protection is also examined with regard to novelty and inventive step.
The utility model is not an inferior intellectual property right, but can provide complementary protection if used correctly. A utility model makes sense, for example, when it comes to protecting a concrete embodiment of a technical invention at short notice. In addition, a utility model can be derived â€“ â€œbranched off" â€“ from a pending patent application, making it unnecessary for the patent to be granted. Protection as a utility model may be obtained almost immediately. This makes sense in particular if the grant of the corresponding patent is foreseeable and immediate steps need be taken against an infringer, for example at a trade fair.
A utility model also comes in handy if the invention has already been published. An application for a utility model in Germany and in several other countries can be filed up to six months after the publication of the invention or after an exhibition at a trade fair. In addition, oral prior disclosures, for example through lectures, do not harm the novelty requirement of a utility model.
The utility model does have its limitations in terms of protectable inventions; for example, no methods (such as a manufacturing methods) can be protected, but only devices. The same applies to biological inventions, which are denied utility model protection.
We at the 24IP Law Group are more than happy to provide you with advice on how to specifically complement your IP portfolio through utility models. This advice will include defining the use of utility models for protection of technical inventions as well as the use of the utility model as an enforceable right in the short term.