A utility model is a patent-like intellectual property right to protect inventions. This type of right is only available in some countries. Although a utility model is similar to a patent, it is generally cheaper to obtain and maintain, has a shorter term (generally 6 to 15 years), shorter grant lag, and less stringent patentability requirements. In some countries, it is only available for inventions in certain fields of technology and/or only for products. Utility models can be described as second-class patentes.
Definition and terminology
A utility model is a statutory exclusive right granted for a limited period of time (the so-called "term") in exchange for an inventor providing sufficient teaching of his or her invention to permit a person of ordinary skill in the relevant art to perform the invention. The rights conferred by utility model laws are similar to those granted by patent laws, but are more suited to what may be considered as "incremental inventions". Specifically, a utility model is a "right to prevent others, for a limited period of time, from commercially using a protected invention without the authorization of the right holder(s). Terms such as "petty patent", "innovation patent", “short-term patents”, "minor patent", and "small patent" are generally considered to fall within the definition of "utility model". The German and Austrian utility model is called the "Gebrauchsmuster", which influenced some other countries such as Japan. In Indonesia the utility model is called a "Petty Patent".
Requirements for grant
Most countries having utility model laws require that the invention be new. However, many patent or utility model offices do not conduct substantive examination and merely grant the utility model after checking that utility model applications comply with formalities. This is why for a utility model the granting process is sometimes called simply registration of the utility model. Furthermore, some countries exclude particular subject-matter from utility model protection. For example, in some countries, methods (i.e., processes), chemical substances, plants and animals are barred from utility model protection.