What is a Utility Model?
It is an intellectual property right to protect an invention like a patent. It is a faster substitute for patents. Sometimes a technical invention may not fulfill all the patentability requirements but may play an important part in a local innovation system. The simplest 6example is the cover of a ball pen. A ball pen is an existing invention but the ink would dry up, so a cover was invented and the cover is a Utility Model. Utility Model is a registered right that gives the holder time-limited protection of his technical invention and exclusive use of his technical invention. It is intended for the protection of technical inventions that make some improvements to, and adaptations of, existing products. In order to obtain protection, just like patents, an application for the Utility Model has to be filed. In return for the Utility Model rights the holder is required to disclose all details of the invention by providing accurate, and descriptive information about his invention in writing in a manner that a person of ordinary skill in the relevant art can perform the invention. This disclosure has to be made at the time of the application. Please note that Utility model protection is not available in all countries.
The Pros of a Utility Model
- The level of patentability compliance is less stringent than when compared to applying for a patent
- The registration process is simpler and faster
- Maintaining a Utility Model is cheaper
- An invention that is protected under a Utility Model gives the holder exclusive rights to use, produce, manufacture, distribute, import, or sell for a limited period of time.
- The protection holder has the right to prevent others from commercially using his invention. The holder can also claim compensation for any wrong use of his invention. Any interested party has to obtain the consent of the protection holder
- Beneficial for minor innovations especially by SMEs as it is cheaper, simpler, and faster
The Cons of a Utility Model.
- The term of protection is shorter as compared to patent protection
- In some countries, you cannot get a Utility Model protection for “processes”.
- You cannot obtain Utility Model and patent protection for the same invention. You have to pick only one
- In the absence of substantive examination, there is a greater risk of the protection being challenged and canceled.
- The holder has to disclose detailed, descriptive, and accurate information about his invention in writing which can be accessed publicly.
Most countries apart from the US, UK and Canada have the Utility Model system. Utility Model is also known as, “petty patent”, “innovation patent”, “short-term patents”, “minor patent”, and “small patent”.
Even though the process of a Utility Model is cheaper, faster, and easier as compared to a Patent it does not necessarily mean that it should be more favoured. This is all dependent on case to case and country to country. Each case is unique and the required extension of intellectual property protection for each invention is different. It is best to discuss your invention in detail with your patent agent who can guide and assist you in the right direction.
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