A utility model is a property right granted for technical inventions and takes effect exclusively for the Federal Republic of Germany.
The maximum term of protection of a utility model is 10 years.
Inventions can be protected provided that they are novel, involve an inventive step and are industrially applicable. In this regard, in contrast to the patent, only devices can be protected and methods are excluded from protection. Novel means that the invention does not form part of prior art. Prior art is constituted by all knowledge which has been made available to the public by written descriptions or by use prior to the filing date. In this context, a novelty grace period of 6 months is granted for descriptions or use by the applicant, i.e. in the case of a publication by the inventor in the cited time period they are not considered as forming part of prior art. Inventions are industrially applicable if they have a subject-matter which can be produced or used in any field of industry inclusive of agriculture.
Exceptions to protectability include, inter alia
The application for a utility model has to be filed with the German Patent and Trademark Office (GPTO).
As a rule, examination of the subject-matter of the application with respect to novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability is not performed prior to registration. If a technical invention is substantiated and all formal requirements are satisfied, the utility model is recorded in the Utility Model Register.
Everyone has the right to request a cancellation of a utility model vis-à-vis the proprietor thereof if the subject-matter of the utility model is not eligible for protection. Cancellation of the utility model has to be requested and well-founded.