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Questions and answers about utility model applications

What are the differences between a utility model and a patent?

Technical inventions can be protected by both patents and utility models. Please note that technical, chemical and biological processes are patentable, but not eligible for utility model protection.

Patents and utility models have different terms of protection. Utility model protection initially lasts for three years. It can be extended to up to 10 years. A patent can last for 20 years.

Utility model applications are not examined for compliance with the substantive requirements such as novelty and inventive step. These criteria are only examined if the utility model is subsequently reviewed in cancellation or infringement proceedings. For this reason, a utility model is available faster, more easily and at lower cost. However, there is a greater risk that it might be challenged and cancelled.

What documents do I need to submit when applying for a utility model?

You must use the official form (G 6003) for applying for a utility model. It must be accompanied by a technical description presenting the known state of the art, on the one hand, and the layout and advantages of the invention, on the other hand. The description can be supplemented by one or several technical drawings.

You must also submit claims. The claims determine for what concrete subject matter utility model protection is requested.

pdf- Datei (G 6003) Antrag auf Eintragung eines Gebrauchsmusters
pdf- Datei Information for Utility Model Applicants - detailed notes on filing

How much does a utility model cost?

The application fee for a utility model application is EUR 40. Maintenance fees are charged for extending the term of protection.

How long does it take to register a utility model?

The registration procedure is completed, on average, within three to four months.

Do I need an attorney to file an application?

Applicants can apply for IP rights themselves. It is at the applicant's discretion to decide whether to seek the help of an attorney. However, persons who do not reside in Germany must appoint an attorney in Germany or an attorney established in the European Union to act on their behalf.

What is the description of the invention?

The description is an essential element of the utility model application. It must be drawn up by you or your patent attorney and present:

  • the state of the art
  • the problem underlying the invention
  • the solution of the problem (the invention as such)
  • the advantages achieved by this solution

What are claims?

The claims are the core component of the application. The contents of the claims determine the scope of protection. Thus, only those technical features will be protected that are mentioned in the claims.

What is the state of the art?

The state of the art is the yardstick of the 'novelty' requirement for protection. It comprises technical solutions that have been published in any manner. This includes, for example, patent specifications or articles in scientific reviews. The state of the art relevant for utility models comprises written publications from all over the world and - in contrast to the patent - use in Germany made available to the public.

Under what circumstances can I request legal aid?

You can request legal aid for a utility model application, if your financial circumstances are difficult. In that case, an attorney-at-law or patent attorney can be assigned to you as your representative. More information on this issue is provided in the brochure on legal aid (Merkblatt für Verfahrenskostenhilfe).

pdf- Datei Merkblatt über Verfahrenskostenhilfe vor dem Deutschen Patent- und Markenamt

Has the DPMA received payment of the maintenance fee for my utility model and has the payment been processed?

For utility models which are still in force the next due date is displayed in DPMAregister / in the section Patents and Utility Models/ in the list of master data/ in the line "Due date".

In some cases, the computation of the next fee due may be delayed. Then, the line "Due date" will temporarily not be displayed.

If the full and correct fee amount has been paid in respect of the file number, the payment is usually processed within the next 35 days and - if admissible - the next due date will be indicated in the corresponding line.

Since 01 June 2011, the DPMA has stopped issuing receipts (see also Mitteilung Nr. 7/11 der Präsidentin des Deutschen Patent- und Markenamts) , but you can use the updated data of your register entry as confirmation of payment.

Information on the amount of the fees payable is available on the fees page or in the leaflet pdf- Datei Information Concerning Costs, Fees and Expenses (A9510.1). General information (in German) on fee payments to the DPMA is available here.

Do you have any further questions?

Then please call us at +49 89 2195 - 1000. The enquiry unit of the German Patent and Trade Mark Office will be pleased to answer your questions about design applications.
Or, simply send an e-mail to info@dpma.de.

The enquiry units do not give legal advice. Legal advice is exclusively provided by patent attorneys and attorneys-at-law.

© 2016 Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt | Last updated 22/08/17