On the other hand, it does not provide the same long-term exclusivity as a patent (ten years’ protection against twenty years for patents), which is why utility models are sometimes referred to as ‘petty patents’. In many situations, a utility model is a strong but often overlooked way of protecting your business.
A utility model protects your invention and gives you an exclusive right to exploit it commercially. In order to be registered as a utility model, your invention must be susceptible to industrial application and be capable of solving a technical problem. The protection applies for three years from the application filing date and is renewable for two periods of three and four years respectively for a maximum protection period of ten years.
When you apply for registration of a utility model, your invention will not necessarily be tested to establish whether it is novel or whether it is different from pre-existing inventions. This means that you will not know whether the utility model is valid until it is tested. In order to be valid, the invention must still be novel as for patents, but the requirement that it must be different from existing inventions is more lenient than for patents. This means that a utility model application may be the right choice, if your invention is novel, but perhaps not as different from prior art as would be required if you wanted to apply for a patent.
How to apply for a utility model?
You may apply for registration of a utility model with and without scrutiny. If you apply without scrutiny, the authorities will carry out a formality examination and a technical inspection. The formality examination ensures that all data have been provided in your application, and the technical inspection confirms to the Danish Patent and Trademark Office that your invention meets the requirements that it must be susceptible to commercial exploitation and that it must solve a technical problem.
If you apply for registration of a utility model with scrutiny, the authorities, in addition to the formality examination and the technical evaluation, will also carry out a novelty search and a registrability assessment, in order to test whether your invention meets the conditions that it must be novel and clearly distinguishable from prior art technology.
Utility model applications cannot be filed in all countries, but in many important markets such as China and Germany, utility models are a frequently used and potentially strong option for obtaining protection.