National German utility models
In Germany, utility models and patents can be obtained as technical protection rights.
Application for a German Utility Model
Besides the examined patent, it is also possible to request for an unexamined utility model in Germany. This can be done either by a direct national filing or through a European or International application that designates Germany. In addition, utility models can be branched off from a pending German, European or International patent application. Both patents and utility models can coexist, even with an identical scope of protection.
The utility model can claim priority to an earlier filed utility model or patent or patent application.
Advantages of a utility model
Since a utility model application is not substantively examined, it can provide protection very quickly. Thus, when there is a need to take action against a possible infringer before a patent has been granted, the branching off of a utility model can provide the applicant with an enforceable IP right within a short time that can form the basis for an infringement action.
The German utility model provides for a protection period of 10 years and is generally registered within 6 to 10 weeks after filing.
Utility model protection is available for technical inventions as well as for chemical substances, food and pharmaceuticals. However, a utility model cannot provide protection for methods, such as manufacturing, measuring or working methods/processes.
Although a utility model application is not examined, a prior art search can be requested but the results are not taken into account for registration of the utility model, and if a search is requested, it does not suspend the registration of the utility model.
The German utility model provides for a 6 month grace period, such that written or oral disclosures or prior public use by the applicant or their predecessor in title before the priority or filing date are not taken into account for the assessment of novelty or inventive step in potential cancellation proceedings, for example. Thus, branching off a utility model from a patent application (i.e. a national, EP or PCT application) may result in the protection of an invention even in cases where prior art exists that would prohibit the grant of a patent. In addition, an oral disclosure or prior use by a third party is only relevant for the assessment of novelty and inventive step if such disclosure or use has taken place in Germany.