A quick an inexpensive way of obtaining protection for technical inventions (except of processes such as a production process for instance) is offered by a utility model. Applications can be filed also for chemical substances, food and pharmaceuticals. While the grant of a patent may sometimes take several years, a utility model can be registered already a few weeks after its filing. Hence, the utility model is an option for obtaining a full and enforceable protective right within only a short time.
During the registration process, the German Patent and Trademark Office will examine the formal and material qualifications, and its Utility Model Section will determine for instance, whether the invention is a technical invention.
Considering that novelty, inventiveness and industrial applicability are not examined, it is advisable to make sure that the qualifications for an effective protective right are in fact given. This may be done by conducting searches prior to or by the time of filing an application. The longest possible period of protection of a utility model is ten years. The initial period of protection is three years. A prolongation of the protective term is possible after three, six and eight years, respectively by the payment of a prolongation fee.