What is a Utility Model
Similar to a patent, a Utility Model is an intellectual property right granted by a country’s government. They make it illegal for anyone except the owner or someone with the owner’s permission to make, use, import or sell the invention in the country where the right for the utility model was granted.
A Utility Model can be a more appropriate and cheaper way to protect a new invention but there can be limitations on what can be protected. They typically only last between 7 and 10 years and are available in a wide range of countries, but not all – including the UK and US.
> What right does a utility model give you ?
Like a patent, a utility model provides its owner with the right to prevent others from exploiting the claimed invention without the owner’s consent, in the geographical area for which the utility model was granted. Usually, the same relief available for infringement of a patent is available for infringement of a utility model.
> Utility model v Patent ?
For a patent to be granted, the invention must be both novel and inventive. However for utility models to be granted the examination of the prior art is often limited to material available for assessment and the inventive step is either not required or has a lower threshold.
A patent provides protection for up to 20 years, whereas a utility model provides protection between 7 and 10 years.
Utility model applications are not examined before grant and take on average 6 months to be granted compared to 3 – 4 years for a Patent.
Utility models are published within months of the application, compared to 18 months for a patent application.
Utility models are much cheaper to obtain and maintain compared to patents.
> Can all inventions be protected by a utility model ?
No. The requirements vary from country to country and most countries will only grant a utility model for products and not for methods or processes.
> Why a utility model ?
Because the novelty and inventive step requirements are less stringent than those of patents, a utility model is an ideal form of protection, when :
Protection is sought on a modification on an existing product.
The inventive step requirements of the product may not met.
The product has a relatively short commercial life.
The funds to protect the invention are limited.
> Where can you get a utility model ?
Albania, Angola, Argentina, ARIPO (African Regional Intellectual Property Organization), Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belize, Brazil, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Chile, China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, OAPI, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Spain, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Uzbekistan.
Utility models are not available in the United Kingdom or the United States.
> Applying for a utility model
Just like a patent, utility model applications are filed at the Patent Offices list below, and contain a description, claims and drawings. The process is very similar to that of a patent, albeit it is a lot quicker and the requirements/standards needed for grant are less stringent.
> What happens after grant ?
Usually, renewal fees are due annually or every few years to keep the utility model in force. However, in some countries no renewal fees are required and utility models are simply granted for a fixed term.