Utility Models

What you need to know

Like a patent, a utility model provides a monopoly right for an invention. Utility models are usually cheaper to obtain and can have less stringent requirements for registration than patents, but typically only last between 7 and 10 years and there are often restrictions on the subject matter than can be protected.

Utility models are available in a wide range of countries, but not all. For example, the UK and US do not offer utility models, but utility models are available in:

  • Germany
  • Russia
  • Brazil
  • Japan
  • China
  • Australia
  • Indonesia
  • France
  • Italy
  • Republic of Korea
  • Spain
  • Turkey

Utility models provide a monopoly right and the remedies available against infringers are usually the same as the remedies available for patent infringement.

In many jurisdictions utility models need to satisfy a lower standard of inventive step, or none at all, to be registered.  There is often no pre-registration substantive examination procedure, meaning that a registered right can be obtained very quickly – sometimes within just a few months of filing.

The most common reasons for filing a utility model include to complement a patent portfolio, or to quickly obtain an enforceable right. In some countries, notably Germany, it is possible to divide a utility model from a pending patent application, meaning that utility models can be filed to specifically target competitor’s products while maintaining the parent patent application for broader, longer-term protection.

How we can help

Utility model law varies greatly between the different countries and we have a wealth of experience in advising on how best to use utility models and other intellectual property rights to obtain the most suitable protection for an invention.  We can directly file utility models in Germany, via our Munich office.