Utility model vs. patent
In many cases utility models represent a cost-effective alternative to patents, and are rightly often given consideration in Germany. The main differences between patents and utility models relate to the term and the registration procedure. The term of the utility model is at most 10 years, instead of the 20 years which is the usual case for a patent. In the registration procedure for a utility model, only a simple formal examination with subsequent registration is necessary, instead of a substantive examination of the requirements for legal validity.
Utility models during infringement proceedings
In addition to these basic differences, the utility model has many further features which mean that it is a very valuable property right and can be employed as a tactical tool in patent infringement proceedings. By way of example, within the first ten years of the term of a patent application, utility models can be split off from it. Furthermore, a utility model can be enforced straight after it has been registered. This enables the creation of property rights which can be enforced in a swift and targeted manner if a technology that is the subject of a patent application is already being used by a competitor.
In recent years, we have been involved in many cases relating to the infringement and validity of rights in which utility models played an important role. We use this experience in effectively deploying utility models for the benefit of our clients. Please contact us if you would like to find out more.