With a utility model you acquire economically effective protection virtually straight away. The utility model is a protective right for which its content has not been examined. It is derived off ("abzweigen") or applied for and as soon as the formal requirements are met it is entered into the register of the DPMA as a utility model without an examination as to novelty, industrial applicability or inventive step. The secret to use it is to reliably search the prior art. In this way, the risk of a cancellation procedure is minimised and the power enforcing of the utility model is sharpened with respect to entering competition.
The duration of a utility model can be extended to a maximum of 10 years. A utility model will not protect a method. There is a particular feature, namely that for a utility model there is a six months novelty grace period, during which intended or unintended disclosure of the protected subject matter of the utility model by the proprietor himself within this period does not result in the utility model losing its legal validity. Please note that it is presently impossible to file a subsequent patent application after own publication of the invention.
The utility model registered at the DPMA is valid for Germany. In contrast to a patent, there is no European or international utility model application. The "small patent" (Utility Model, Utility Certificate, Innovation Patent) is known inter alia in Australia (as an Innovation Patent – called Petty Patent prior to 2001), Austria, Brazil, China (including Hong Kong and Macao), the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France (as a Utility Certificate), South Korea, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico (as a Petty Patent, but examined for content), Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Turkey.
Compared with a patent, it has a reduced lifetime, a limited statutory claims and usually prior art faces limited to the local territory.
The utility model can be used as a supplement to a patent application - by deriving it therefrom. This offers side-by-side protection for the time period between a patent being applied for and being granted, during which time period there is little or no protection. The derived utility model is an independent utility model application filing, claiming the application date of the patent application at the time of filing the utility model. When the derived utility model is registered, your idea has complete protection, independent of the progress of the patent grant proceedings.
We add a remark that a utility patent (as compared to a design patent in the US is different from a "utility model").
Last updated August 12, 2013