Jesana IP is home to utility model and patent specialists. We welcome anyone who is interested in obtaining assistance in conducting a viability study, filing a patent or utility model application, enforcing patent or utility model protection, and performing their surveillance. To define the nature of a utility model, the difference between utility models and patents must be clarified. Here we explain it to you.
What are utility models?
What exactly is a utility model? How is a utility model defined? A utility model is a title for the protection of inventions which impart a practical use to an object, tools, devices, non-pharmaceutical chemical compounds, or parts thereof insofar as they bring about a new technical effect, advantage, or benefit as a result of a particular structure, configuration, composition, arrangement, or mechanism. Utility models have a limited validity of ten years at most.
Difference between utility models and patents
An invention patent must meet a series of requirements to be granted: it must be novel, involve inventive step (does not constitute obvious solutions for one having ordinary skill in the art in the subject-matter), and present industrial applicability, i.e., it can be elaborated, reproduced, and manufactured industrially.
The major difference between a patent and a utility model lies in the inventive step because a utility model in itself implies the requirement of less creativity and technical complexity. For that reason, utility models focus more on small inventions that cover basic needs but lack technical complexity and are often based on other already existing know-how. This is the case for certain objects, small tools, implements, and instruments which, whilst constituting inventions, are simple improvements of the state of the art.
This is why utility models are often referred to as utility innovations or small patents. This is also why the maximum duration of utility models is, as mentioned, 10 years, i.e., half that of a patent (20 years). The utility model is not an alternative that exists in all countries. However, it exists in Spain, and it is further possible to switch the type of registration (from a patent to a utility model, or vice versa).
Utility model filing and registration process
A specification must be prepared contemplating the title, description (object of the invention, sector, technical background, description of the invention, explanation of each of the accompanying figures or drawings), a section to provide graphical explanations which complement the description of the invention and facilitate understanding thereof, and another section of claims in which the object of protection of the utility model, i.e., what the inventor considers his own, must be clearly and concisely defined.
Prosecution before the OEPM (Spanish Patent and Trademark Office) is based on the application for registration, formality examination, publication, and establishment of a time period for third parties to submit opposition (2 months from publication), deferment if oppositions are submitted, and establishment of a time period for filing a reply (2 months from the publication of the opposition), and finally the issuance of a decision (with the possibility of filing an appeal within a time period of 1 month).
Basically and in summary, the registration and grant of utility models in Spain:
- It’s a simpler process than that of a patent.
- Requires a lower inventive step criterion than in the case of patents.
- Includes the possibility of benefitting from a priority period of 12 months to extend protection outside the Spanish territory.
- And includes a maximum validity period of 10 years.