Utility model registration provides fast and low-cost protection of technical inventions. Utility model protection is also available for chemical substances, food and pharmaceuticals, but not for processes, such as manufacturing, working or measuring processes. Whereas it frequently takes several years to obtain a patent, a utility model may be registered within a few weeks after filing the application. Filing a utility model application is a fast way to get a fully fledged, enforceable IP right.
Within the scope of the registration procedure, the DPMA checks the formal and some of the substantive requirements for protection. The utility model unit determines, for example, whether the subject matter is a technical invention.
The substantive requirements for protection
are not examined.
You should carry out thorough searches to make sure that your application actually meets these conditions. Otherwise the IP right will not come into effect and you cannot assert any rights based on your utility model registration.
Utility model protection can last for up to 10 years. This is a major difference to the patent that can be kept in force for up to 20 years.
The initial term of protection is three years. Protection can be renewed after three, six and eight years by paying the appropriate maintenance fee.
A utility model registered at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office is valid in the Federal Republic of Germany. In contrast to the patent, there is neither a European nor an international filing route. Not all countries offer utility model protection. For example, there is no utility model in Switzerland. More information on this issue is provided by the individual patent offices. The Innovaccess website provides more detailed information on utility model protection in countries of the European Union.
These pages summarise the basic facts about utility models. For this reason, they contain simplified and generalised statements. It is not possible to present all issues here in an exhaustive and authoritative manner. For more detailed information please see the fact sheets published by the DPMA or, in case of doubt, the legal texts. The legal basis for utility models is laid down in the Gebrauchsmustergesetz (Utility Model Law) and the Gebrauchsmusterverordnung (Utility Model Ordinance).
© 2013 Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt | Last updated 24/05/13