What is a utility model?

Fast and low-cost protection of inventions

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.

The fast 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

  • novelty
  • inventive achievement
  • industrial application

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.

Inventions protected for up to 10 years

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.

Utility model registration valid in the Federal Republic of Germany

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.