Utility Model Law
Like patents, utility models (also called "petty" patents) are granted to protect technical inventions which are not yet known, and which are distinguished from the known state-of-the-art by an "inventive step". However, patents are granted by the patent offices only after a thorough examination for patentability. Utility models are registered without such an examination, with the advantage of earlier registration and lower costs, but with the disadvantage of an increased risk of non-validity. In fact, the prerequisites for a valid utility model – such as novelty and inventive step – are usually examined for the first time during an infringement action.
Another important difference to patents is the shorter duration of only 10 years. Further, methods cannot be protected through utility models. An advantage of the utility model is the grace-period, i.e. publications by the inventor himself are not taken into account when assessing novelty, if they occurred less than six months prior to the filing day.
Our patent attorneys are highly experienced in drafting, filing and enforcing utility models. In particular, we assist our clients in:
Drafting utility model applications
Filing with the German Patent and Trademark Office, including branching off from patents
Revocation requests against utility models
Infringement proceedings based on utility models, including warning letters