Utility Model Patents – by Sejal Chaturvedi


Intellectual property rights are rights of possession given to any innovation, invention, and/or creation made by any person. These rights are divided into various categories in accordance with various forms of innovations and one such category is called Patent. A patent is an IP right given to any scientific and technological innovation. The key to getting an IP is to create something novel, unique, or something which substantially upgrades the present technology i.e. upgrade from 3G to 4G. however, some small innovations may not be path-breaking but they are also, a result of a mind’s creative and intellectual abilities, which need to be accredited as well.


According to WIPO, Utility models, like patents, safeguard new technological ideas by giving a limited exclusive right to prohibit others from economically using the protected inventions without the rights holder’s approval. An application must be made to acquire protection, and a utility model must be approved. They are also known as “short-term patents,” “utility inventions,” or “innovation patents.” A utility model is difficult to define since it changes from nation to country. In general, utility models are seen to be especially well-suited for protecting innovations that make minor enhancements to and adaptations of existing items, or those that have a brief commercial life. Local innovators frequently employ utility model systems.


The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, 1883, is one of the earliest major international treaties for the promotion and protection of industrial property. A period of priority can be gained for a utility model application under the convention by virtue of a right of priority based on a patent application, and vice versa.

According to the Convention, if a patent application contains two innovations, the applicant may partition his patent application into the patent application or utility model Suo-motto or upon receipt of the examination report. Importation and obligatory licensing are equally relevant to utility models, mutatis mutandis. Similarly, the Patent Corporation Treaty (PCT) allows for the filing of Utility Model applications through the National Phase, with the priority date and flexibilities offered as applicable for the patent.

Although TRIPS establishes minimum requirements for the protection of intellectual property rights, it makes no mention of utility model patents. The Utility Model framework was initially developed in Germany in 1891, which prompted inventors to file around 85% of these applications. Utility Models must meet the same requirements as patents under the German IP system, although the level of inventive steps is lower.


An innovation that is original, imaginative, and has a practical application can be protected.    An innovation that is primarily original but has little or no creative steps might be protected.
Any new or significantly improved innovation can be protected.All minor improvement inventions are eligible for protection.
The patent is valid for 20 years from the date of filing.The duration of protection ranges from 7 to 10 years from the date of filing.
The expense of obtaining and maintaining a patent is high.The utility model is less expensive to get and maintain.
To validate patentability, a substantive review of the patent application is required.It does not need a substantive examination method since it lacks innovative steps.
A patent takes a longer time to get [2 to 5 years].Utility model protection can be obtained in as little as 6 months to a year.
Patent protection is offered in nearly every major country.Utility model protection is only accessible in a few countries due to technological limitations.
Patent protection is regularly sought after.Utility model protection is utilized less frequently.


Innovation or creation may not always be path-breaking or something novel, however, one needs to understand that such small steps and improvisations will eventually lead to upgradation in technology. these small improvements also entail one’s intellect and creativity. in addition, with every improvement and upgradation, a new variant is created which must be given due credit. Especially in a country like India where MSMEs and other small sectors occupy a large space in the market and often there are local manufacturers which make improvements to cater to local needs of the people.  With proper implementation of the utility patent system, small scale innovations shall get their due credit and protection . further internal technology transfer shall also boost the domestic markets of India. Hence, all forms of innovation must be recognized in Indian IPR jurisprudence.


The views are that of author’s own and not necessarily the views of IPTSE Academy. This blog is a platform for academic discussions and hence authors have been given flexibility to convey their thought process.


Sejal Chaturvedi


Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad


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