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What Is a Utility Model?

What is a utility model? This is a registered right granted to an inventor of a technical invention in exchange for public disclosure of the workings of the invention. Utility models are generally granted for a limited time. In 1997, the European Commission attempted to harmonize utility model laws across the EU, but negotiations were not successful. The Commission continues to monitor the economic relevance of utility model legislation. Its definition is largely similar to the US Patent and Trademark Office’s guide to utility model laws.

Inventions related to shape or construction of articles

A utility model is a new technical solution pertaining to the shape or construction of a product. While the patent system is designed to protect highly advanced technologies, the utility model system protects inventions related to shape and construction of articles. A device is an idea that exhibits high creativity. Utility models are only applicable to products and do not protect natural objects. As such, utility models protect only products and processes related to shape or construction.

Patent protection for utility models requires that the product include the design element, the description of the design, and any essential features that distinguish it from prior designs. The invention must be completely distinct from any other similar products in its class. These essential features must be outlined by a solid line. Once the utility model has been approved, it may be made public. Utility models are the most common type of patentable products.

A utility model protects a device that relates to the shape, structure, or combination of articles. It requires a specific shape or construction that is industrially applicable. A method cannot be protected under a utility model. The Japanese Utility Model Act is valid for ten years. Once protected, utility models provide an easy way to assert ownership over your invention against counterfeit products. These models can also be used in trademark applications.

Inventions whose commercial exploitation is contrary to public order or accepted principles of morality

As a result of patent laws, not all inventions can be protected as utility models. Generally, these inventions are computer programs, plant varieties, biological materials, or biological processes that are capable of industrial application. In addition, discoveries, scientific theories, mathematical methods, and artistic creations are not considered utility models. Likewise, a utility model cannot protect a product or process, unless it uses a new reactant.

A utility model can be registered as a registered right. The process to protect a utility model begins with filing an application in accordance with the Patent Act and Regulations. The Office will accord the application a filing date and conduct formalities examination. In addition, a utility model cannot protect pharmaceutical substances, chemical substances, or biotech products, and it cannot protect inventions that are contrary to public order. The application for utility model protection is not published, but the resulting right is. This registration does not examine the novelty, inventive step, or commercial value of an invention.

While utility models are an important consideration in patent law, courts are still split on whether these inventions are patentable. While some inventions are not useful, there is a broad exception for certain types of patents. The Federal Circuit has recently considered the case of Juicy Whip, Inc. v. Orange Bang, Inc., which involved a post-mix beverage dispenser and a transparent bowl. The transparent bowl gave the appearance of a primary source, but the actual product was mixed before it was dispensed. The district court found the invention lacked utility, but the Federal Circuit reversed the decision.

Inventions for which a utility model can be obtained

Utility models provide protection for a wide variety of inventions. Sometimes called petty patents, they are meant to protect smaller, less valuable inventions. Compared to patents, they are easier to obtain and can often be enforced right away against unauthorized third parties. Many countries grant utility models, including Japan, Germany, France, Korea, and Taiwan. However, not every country recognizes these rights.

Inventions for which a utility model may be obtained include small improvements to existing products, and improvements to products or processes. In addition, utility models are often used to protect minor innovations in a country’s innovation system, such as improvements to existing products. While patents provide greater protection for major inventions, utility models offer much lower barriers to innovation for minor innovations. As a result, utility models are a useful alternative to patents in many developing nations.

A utility model is a way to protect a small invention, without having to pay a patent fee. The process of obtaining a utility model is easy, inexpensive, and fast. Registration of utility models can take a few weeks, while a patent application may take up to three years. So, while a utility model is a great way to protect an idea, there are many other ways to secure the protection you need.