Utility Model Protection
The utility model is the little brother of the patent. Shorter in life (10 years) than a patent, but easier and more cost effective to acquire, the utility model represents an interesting alternative or addition to patent protection.
Different than a patent the utility model is not examined as to novelty and inventive step before registration. Instead, a formal examination takes place only, after which the utility model is registered – often only a few months after the filing date. Protectability is determined only when it counts, namely, in an infringement proceedings or a cancellation proceedings.
A further important particularity of the utility model is the provision of a grace period. Different than with patents, a publication of the invention by the inventor does not hinder protectability as a utility model if a utility model application is filed within 6 months after the date of publication of the invention.
The utility model may be filed as its own application. However, a utility model application can also be derived or „spin-off“ from a pending German, European or international patent application. This provides for interesting options in case of infringement proceedings.
We look forward to provide you with our advice whether it is preferable for you to have your invention protected as a patent or as the utility model – or to seek protection both through a patent and a utility model in particular cases.