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Utility Model Protection

What can be protected by a utility model?

Utility model protection is available for inventions that are

  • new
  • involve an inventive step and are
  • susceptible of industrial application.

Please note that utility model registration is not available for all types of innovations. The invention must have a technical character. Furthermore, certain inventions are not registrable. The following items, for example, do not qualify for utility model protection:

  • discoveries, scientific theories, mathematical methods
  • blueprints, patterns, teaching methods, rules for playing games, accounting systems, programs for computers
  • process inventions (e.g. manufacturing and working processes)
  • biotechnological inventions
  • animal and plant varieties

Within the scope of the registration procedure, the utility model unit examines whether the application relates to a technical invention and whether the invention is not excluded from utility model registration, such as processes.

The utility model unit does not examine whether your invention meets the requirements of novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability. Thus you will obtain fast and low-cost protection of your invention. However, competitors may subsequently challenge your utility model by a request for cancellation.

Novel invention

An invention is considered to be new if it is not part of the state of the art. The state of the art comprises all technical products or processes published before the date of filing of the utility model application. This includes the applicant's own scientific publications or presentation
of a new product at a fair. If you apply for utility model registration within six months from the publication of your invention, utility model protection is still available. This is called the novelty grace period.

Inventive step

A utility model involves an inventive step if the invention is not obvious to a skilled person having regard to the state of the art.

Industrial application

The invention is applicable in industry if it can be produced or used in any area of industry. This includes, for example, agriculture. Methods of medical or surgical treatment and diagnosis are not susceptible of industrial application. This does not apply to products for use in such methods, such as surgical instruments or medicines.

Protection of the structure of microelectronic semiconductor products

You can apply for protection of three-dimensional structures of microelectronic semiconductors at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office. This type of IP right is referred to as topography. Topography applications are processed by the utility model unit of the DPMA.

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