Utility models, utility model filing

A utility model protects a technical invention in exactly the same way as a patent. In contrast to a patent however, only technical objects such as devices, circuits and other objects can be protected with a utility model. Methods cannot be protected with a utility model. Another difference from the patent is that the utility model can be registered immediately without factual examination. However, the utility model must also have an inventive step which, at least theoretically, need not be quite as great as the “inventive step” in the patent. If a third party, in particular someone against whom action has been filed by the utility model proprietor on account of patent infringement, disputes that the utility model is new and has an inventive step, he can make an application for cancellation at the German Patent and Trademark Office. Then the examination is repeated with the involvement of the third party to determine whether the utility model was actually new on the filing date and had an inventive step.

Another particular feature of the utility model is that in a utility model, the applicant’s own prior publications which have been made in a period of six months before the filing of the utility model are disregarded when examining the novelty.

The maximum term of the utility model is ten years provided that extension fees have been paid after three, six and eight years.

The preparation of a utility model and a patent application are identical in substantial parts. The utility model is more favourable insofar as the examination process prescribed for a patent application does not take place or is only repeated in cases of dispute involving a third party (and with the loser bearing the costs).

For further details we refer to our leaflet on patents and utility models. An overview of the differences between patents and utility models can be found there.

Our office has many years of experience in all questions of utility model law. We have already filed a large number of utility model applications and brought them to registration. We have comprehensive experience in all related aspects including cancellation proceedings, appeal proceedings and infringement proceedings relating to utility models. In our offices in Bremen, Hanover and Oldenburg or in your company we shall be pleased to examine how your invention can be protected with a utility model and prepare a utility model application for you.

If you wish to know how many utility models (and patents) our office has administered in the databases of the German Patent and Trademark Office as representative, click here and enter the following under expert search: VTR = Jabbusch.