German Patents and Utility Models

In Germany, there are two types of protective rights available for technical inventions: patents and utility models. While all technical inventions may be protected by a patent, utility model protection is not granted for processes.

Unlike a patent application, a utility model application does not undergo substantive examination. Instead, following an examination as to formal requirements the utility model is registered within a few months of the filing date.

The requirements for novelty and inventive step are the same for utility models and patents. Furthermore, utility models offer a six-month grace period for novelty that is not available for patents. Since there is no substantive examination, the question of whether the registration actually affords utility model protection is not established until litigation or cancellation proceedings determine the issue.