Not just the little brother of the patent!
In Germany, a utility model protects technical inventions. In contrast to the patent, however, this is an unexamined property right with a maximum term of ten years only.
As purely a registered right, it is very quick to register a utility model with the German Patent and Trademark Office and it also allows for quick action against potential infringers. At the same time, the prohibitive rights arising from a utility model are the same as those arising from a patent! On the other hand, action on the basis of an unexamined utility model holds higher risks and uncertainties due to its legal validity left so far unevaluated.
Utility model protection can only be obtained for device inventions, but not for process inventions. In contrast to patents, utility models are also granted a six-month grace period, that is, own prior publications of the invention within this period do not impair the utility model. With regard to the remaining requirements for protectability, in accordance with the latest legislation of the Federal Court of Justice, there are hardly any differences left between utility models and patents, particularly the requirements for the level of inventiveness, unlike in the past, are now identical.
Prior to applying for the property right of a technical invention, it is therefore important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the respective type of property right against each other. The decision should be taken individually, taking into consideration the individual invention, the respective corporate strategy, and the industry-specific particularities of the market.