Patent FAQs

German Utility Models

Utility models supplement the patent system by providing protection for innovations which are not regarded as inventive enough to warrant a patent grant. They are subjected to a state-of-the-art search but not full substantive examination.

Utility models are increasingly being used by German companies as a quick and cost-effective route for intellectual property protection. Utility models reveal important new technology in exactly the same way as a conventional patent, and can be used to contest new applications and the validity of a patent, so they are an important inclusion in any prior art search.

German Utility Model Legislation

Following changes in German intellectual property law, a new Utility Model Law came into force January 1 1987.

The scope of protection offered by utility models was broadened to include inventions concerning chemicals and polymers, in addition to mechanical devices and apparatus which were covered previously.

Under the terms of the subsequent Utility Model Law of 1990, a protective term of two years is granted from the day following the date of filing of the application. This two year term of protection may initially be renewed for three years, with further renewals available for a period of two years. The maximum term of protection is ten years from the day following the filing date.

Derwent’s coverage of German utility models (Gebrauchsmuster) began in mid 1996. The first utility models covered had the registration date (Eintragungstag) May 23 1996. The publication date (Bekanntmachung) was six weeks later. As a result, the appearance of the utility models in Derwent World Patents Index coincides with, if not precedes, their publication in the gazette (Patentblatt).

A typical week’s coverage will comprise about 400 utility models, of which at least 90% will be Basic. Approximately 70% of all the utility models covered will relate to mechanical inventions (GMPI), 20% to electrical/electronic inventions (EPI) and 10% to chemical inventions (CPI).

This document Copyright Thomson Scientific © 2004

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