German Utility Model
Technical inventions which are new and involve an inventive step and can be used commercially can be protected by utility models.
Terms of protection
The subject matter of the utility model is considered new if not known from prior art. Prior art represents all knowledge that has been made accessible to the public by either a written description or any proven use in Germany before the respective key date (filing date or priority date) of the application. Any description or use which was published within six months before the key date will not be considered if prepared by the applicant or his predecessor in title (six months´ period of grace).
The invention must be based on an inventive step. This is the case if a quality invention is given which cannot be attributed to pure craftsmanship alone.
A utility model application has to be filed with the German Patent and Trademark Office. The day on which the application has been submitted is called the filing date. Unless a so-called priority has been claimed, the filing date will be the key date for the prior art to allow examination of novelty and inventive step.
A utility model will be registered without examining novelty, inventive step and whether it can be used commercially. These requirements will only be examined upon request of any third party in either cancellation proceedings or an infringement suit. Therefore, the utility model is also called a non-examined protective right.
A utility model is registered for three years starting from the filing date. It can be extended for 3 years afterwards and then twice for two years each. Therefore the maximum lifetime equals 10 years starting from the filing date.